A blistering 162 from opener and wicket keeper Steven Taylor propelled USA to victory over Nepal in its opening match of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League [WCL] Division 3 in Bermuda on Sunday [Apr 28].
USA got off to a flying start against Nepal, with openers Steven Taylor and Orlando Baker putting on a 125 runs partnership to lead USA to a daunting total of 366 from its fifty overs.
Florida-born Taylor wasted no time in finding the boundaries, demonstrating why he was the top run scorer in the recent ICC Americas Division 1 Championship. While Baker scored a patient 37, Taylor brought up his century off 61 balls, and then picked up the pace. Taylor reached 162, smashing twelve fours and twelve sixes, before Nepal finally had the breakthrough it was looking for, and USA was 234 for three in 35 overs. Following his departure, USA lost wickets regularly, but the Nepal bowlers were not able to smother the run rate. A hard hitting 67 not out by Timroy Allen helped the USA reach its formidable total of 366 for six.
Captain Paras Khadka and 24 year old Sharad Vesawkar spearheaded the Nepal run chase. The pair crafted a 69 run partnership, with both finding the boundaries regularly to keep the run rate steadily climbing. Khadka was caught by wicketkeeper Taylor for 73, including nine fours and two sixes.
Vesawkar continued the batting offensive, and survived a misfield by Neil McGarrell to score 72 from 61 balls. The tail end continued the run chase, and Shakti Gauchan added 39 before being caught on the penultimate delivery of the match, to leave Nepal all out for 272 in 49.5 overs. Veteran McGarrell was the pick of the USA bowlers with three for 42, while Taylor’s knock of 162 was adjudged to be the Man of the Match performance.
USA skipper Steve Massiah was elated with the result: “We are very pleased with the performance. I thought that it was important that, playing against Nepal who we’ve had many close encounters with over the years and we’ve shared matches with – it’s good to come away with a win. Moving forward, it’s important that we continue the momentum.”
“Initially we didn’t plan to make 366, but we’ll take it! I thought it was an incredible performance by young Steven Taylor to score 162. That was amazing batting, and it’s not batting that you see every day, so with that and some other brilliant performances, everyone chipping in, it just goes to show the depth of our team,” he continued.
Man of the Match Taylor, who became the first USA batsman to score a century in Twenty20 cricket at the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship earlier this year, was pleased that his performance could help his team to victory over the team that beat it in Division 4: “It was really fun, because after playing against these guys in Malaysia in Division 4 last year, it felt good to come back and give them a real hitting. They beat us twice in Malaysia.”
Nepal captain Paras Khadka was disappointed with the result, despite his side scoring a very respectable total of 272. “As a team, maybe we gave 40 runs more to USA. If it had been 300 or 330, maybe it would have been at par. But when a guy gets 162, it’s just one of those days when you cannot do anything.”
“We were disappointed. Maybe a bigger ground would have made a difference, but Taylor batted extremely well, and I think that is one of the best innings we’ve encountered as a team. The bowlers had a really tough time, from both the teams. But this is the start of the tournament, so we need to take all the positives and move ahead. In the World Cricket League, every match is equally important, and you cannot make excuses. You’ve got to adapt and adjust your game accordingly, and your focus has got to be there,” he said.
At St David’s, Oman recorded a seven wicket victory over Italy. Dinidu Marage (19), captain Alessandro Bonora (20) and Peter Petricola (21) were the main contributors with the bat for Italy. However, Petricola’s departure sparked a batting collapse, and Italy lost seven wickets in eight overs. When tail ender Dilan Fernando Arsakulasuriya came to the crease, Italy had only 77 runs on the board, and he added 22 runs before being bowled in the 39th over to end the Italy innings at 110 runs. Aamir Kaleem was the pick of the Oman bowlers, taking four for 15 in only eight overs in a Man of the Match performance.
In reply, Oman batted patiently, with captain Vaibhav Wategaonkar (31 not out) and Ghazanfar Iqbal (27) the main contributors. The side reached 112 in the 29th over, with seven wickets to spare.
Oman’s Wategaonkar was thrilled with his team’s overall performance, but particularly the bowlers: “I am very pleased with our overall performance. Our bowlers gave us an excellent foundation, particularly the spinners. The bowlers put us in a position to chase down such a small total, and I hope to continue the good showing versus Bermuda tomorrow.”
Italy captain Alessandro Bonora was disappointed with his team’s low total: “We didn’t score enough runs. The batsmen didn’t show enough application and intent – losing seven wickets for 20 runs in not good enough. The bowlers tried hard but it’s always going to be difficult to defend 110.”
The Pepsi ICC World Cricket League [WCL] Division 3 continues today [Apr 29] with Italy v USA at the National Sports Center, Bermuda v Oman at St. David’s, and Nepal v Uganda in Somerset. All matches are scheduled to start at 10.30am.
Click photos to enlarge: