Nigeria kept their hopes of reaching June’s International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division 4 alive by beating Guernsey on Friday.
The West Africans, searching for their first win in Malaysia, lost the coin toss as Guernsey chose to bat first. Guernsey’s opening pair of Isaac Damarell and Lukas Barker added 63 of their first 20 overs before the former was bowled by the spin of Endurance Ofem, 31. Barker continued on to 45 but also failed to deal with a rank full-toss by Ofem.
Saheed Akolade stood out for the Nigerian bowler, taking 3-29 off a long and rapid shuffling run, and generating good cartwheel the stumps of the lower order.
Guernsey chances of claiming a first win on the Royal Selangor Club ground, where they lost to Cayman Islands on Thursday, was dealt an early blow when their experienced opener Lee Savident injured his back after three overs and left the field.
Mathew Stokes’ waywardness and a rather short bowling gifted their opponents with boundaries, albeit Nigeria struggled to turn over the strike.
Wickets fell regularly for the first 20 overs, but Nigeria kept pace with the target. Dotun Olatunji and captain Adekunle Adegbola came up with an all-important partnership for Nigeria for the fifth wicket.
Yet Adegbola struggled to score, finishing with only 20 off 72 ball with no boundaries; Olatunji hit over the top, making 40 at nearly a run per ball.
Jammie Nussbaumer however tried rallying his side back and, even axed Olatunji and Osita Onwuzulike in the 34th and 46th overs, but his figures of 3-26 was never enough.
Nigeria struggled to close out the encounter and immediately after Olajide Bejide hit the first of his two sixes, Adegbola tried to replicate same tactic and was caught in his tracks.
With singles sufficient, there was no need for the ugly swipes that underlay most of the Nigerian wickets to fall; yet, in the end, their more aggressive approach worked where Guernsey failed to score heavily when they needed to earlier in the day.
Down to the ninth wicket, Nigeria still needed five runs off the final over. Guernsey, locked up in the Dilemma of choosing the more expensive medium pace of Stokes or the off spin of debutante Luke Le Tissier, Nussbaumer opted for Stokes.
Bejide gambled again, and the first ball disappeared over mid-wicket for his second six, clinching the victory.
Nigeria will be up against the Cayman Islands- another solitary-game winners in Malaysia- in a must win encounter which holds both teams’ chances of promotion to Division 4 or demotion back to Division six with two more matches to spare.