SCOTLAND survived a banana skin – though only just - before launching their World Cricket League campaign with a dramatic victory over Nepal at Ayr last night.

In a match reduced to 36 overs a side, the Scots, having posted 235-5, appeared to be in control after reducing their rivals to 76-2 at the halfway stage in their innings.

The required rate had risen to almost nine runs an over and it was to go higher still before Paras Khadka and Anil Mandal counter-attacked spectacularly while Scotland’s bowlers lost their previous discipline.

A string of mis-fields, over-throws and dropped catches did nothing to enhance the Scottish cause but, with Nepal needing 71 runs from the final five overs, the home side were still in control.

However, in a tense and thrilling finale Nepal got agonisingly close to their target.

Indeed, had it not been for the safe hands of Richie Berrington, the visitors would surely have sent their vociferous support into ecstasy.

Khadka, aided by two dropped catches, had made 70 from only 55 balls when he skied a swirling catch to Berrington to give the impressive Gavin Main a second wicket on his 50-over international debut.

Mandal, though, was still in belligerent mood and looked more than capable of carrying Nepal to victory, the opener taking sixty deliveries for his half-century but accelerating to three figures from just thirty-two more.

Mandal was on strike as Ali Evans took the ball for the final over from which Nepal required 17 runs, around the number they had been achieving from the previous four.

However, the batsman’s luck was to run out as he met the first delivery with a shot which soared towards deep mid-wicket where Berrington again displayed his fielding prowess with a brilliantly judged catch.

Scotland were still not out of danger as they discovered when Sompal Kami clouted a maximum two balls later but Evans held his nerve to clinch victory.

Earlier, despite glorious sunshine, supporters had to endure a frustrating wait as the ground dried out from the effects of torrential overnight rain.

However, the good-natured Nepalese contingent, easily outnumbering home fans, was rewarded for patience with a spirited performance from their favourites - even if the result did not quite go as they had hoped.

Having won the toss and elected to bowl, Nepal perhaps feared the worst when George Munsey stroked the first delivery of the match from Kami to the extra cover boundary.

The shot heralded a breezy opening stand during which the Grange batsman and Kyle Coetzer put on 42 in seven overs.

Munsey, though, rode his luck taking the aerial route until one ambitious shot too many proved his undoing, Gyanendra Malla taking a fine catch off Karan KC to send the batsman on his way for 19.

Matthew Cross, continuing his attractive stroke-play from T20 qualifier earlier in the month, added a 17-ball 20 but, having struck the game’s first maximum straight into the sightscreen, was trapped in front next ball by Khadka.

Craig Wallace followed soon after, bowled by Basant Regmi, while Coetzer continued to play the anchor role.

It ended for the Northants batsman when, having stroked five boundaries in 41, he got the faintest of edges off Regmi and was caught behind.

When Berrington was run out soon after Scotland were teetering on 101-5 but there was no panic as skipper Mommsen and Con de Lange proceeded to compile the biggest partnership of the innings.

Mommsen led the way with consecutive sixes off Rajesh Magar as the acceleration button was firmly pressed while de Lange scored his runs at an even faster rate.

The pair managed to add 113 runs in just over twelve overs, Mommsen reaching his half-century in 52 balls while de Lange achieved the same landmark from fifteen deliveries fewer.

Mommsen, though, moved into over-drive, making 78 from 62 balls, and may well have had his eyes on a century before being bowled by Kami.

De Lange went on to finish unbeaten on 55, having stroked four boundaries as well as clearing the rope with two straight hits.

Skipper Mommsen admitted it was too close for comfort after his side’s three-run success, saying: “We were under pressure – there’s no doubt about that - and it was tough going in both halves of the game.

“But I never felt at any stage we were going to lose the game.

“First and foremost I’m happy with the two points and the win but I think a bit of fatigue showed in our play.

“We’re coming off the back of a tough spell of cricket and it was always going to be a challenge getting up for this game.”

The sides meet again tomorrow (Fri) and Mommsen admitted: “We’ll have to re-group and reconsider our plans.”