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Major comeback sees Oman book their place in T20 World Cup 2020

December 1st, 2019Cricket

Oman fought their way into the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 after coming back from a terrible start against Hong Kong to win their qualifier match by a slim 12 runs.


Expat Sport takes a closer look at how events unfolded along the way.


Already subject to a demoralising 54-run defeat by Namibia a day earlier and a victory which took their opponents on their first ever trip to the T20 World Cup, Oman’s confidence and momentum had already taken a severe blow. Consequently, and most cricket watchers would say inevitably, they struggled to bounce back from Tuesday’s drubbing in their make or break contest with Hong Kong on the 30th of October. 


Oman’s fighting spirit overcomes batting collapse

 

Batting first, to add insult to Oman’s previous injury, Hong Kong's fielders were on fire including two direct-hit run outs, from the hyper-accurate arms of all-rounders Nizakat Khan and Kinchit Shah respectively. Skills which undoubtedly contributed to the steady collapse that left Oman rocking on 22 for 3 by the fifth over, and virtually hanging on for dear life at 42 for 6, come the end of the ninth.

 

Yet, miraculously, certainly in the eyes of some Oman fans, opener Jatinder Singh was still out there at the end, having produced an outstanding if capricious knock of 67 not out from 50 balls. His partnerships of 42 runs with Aamir Kaleem (17) followed by 50 with Mohammad Naseem pulled the Gulf state back into contention. Singh’s sizzling 50-partnership with Naseem (26 not out in 9 balls), was accumulated from just 19 balls, pushing Oman to a relatively decent, but nonetheless chaseable, 134 for 7.

 

Hong Kong also off to abject start, recover then fade in T20 World Cup play off

 

While Oman's start with the bat was about as bad as it gets, inconceivable though it may sound, Hong Kong's was worse. Medium fast bowlers Bilal Khan (4 for 23) and Fayyaz Butt (2 for 17) collectively snapped up five wickets in the first four overs for a paltry 18 runs added to the scoreboard, shredding the run chase before it had begun. A good percentage of Hong Kong's hopes depended on batting star Nizakat delivering a stellar performance, but Bilal obliterated him second ball with a full blooded inswinger that outmanoeuvred his drive to knock back the off stump. However, wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie restored some faith, putting on 52 runs with Haroon Arshad (20), and the eventual loss of two wickets still left Hong Kong with three wickets and 6.3 overs in hand in which to score an achievable 53 runs.

 

But the Hong Kong momentum faded, as McKechnie was dismissed for 44, and it began to become apparent that it would be Oman heading for Australia to take part in the T20 World Cup. Hong Kong eventually reached 122 for 9 leaving Oman to face Scotland in the 5th place play-off match the next day. Bilal Khan received the man of the match award.

 

Oman play-off with Scotland to take 6th T20 World Cup 2020 qualification place

 

While both sides had already qualified for next year's T20 World Cup in Australia they missed out on the semi-finals in the Dubai T20 World Cup Qualifier.

 

Oman batted first, with opener Khawar Ali top-scoring on 43 as they set a score of 167 for 7 (Aquib Ilyas 23, Mehran Khan 29). According to experts, the latest median score for a winning side batting first in men’s T20 matches stands at around 164; therefore based on that measurement Oman had a better-than-even chance. One of Scotland’s more experienced players (involved with the national squad for 8 years) right-arm fast bowler Alasdair Evans took 3 wickets for 36.

 

And when it came to their turn at the crease, Scotland certainly didn’t have it all their own way. Captain Kyle Coetzer was out for a duck, caught by Jatinger Singh and George Munsey went lbw to Ilyas for 17, but cue Matthew Cross to anchor the innings.

 

Still Scotland appeared to be under maximum pressure. Calum MacLeod was out, cheaply by his standards, clean bowled for a lively 15 by Khawar Ali. Then Richie Berrington fell to a smart catch unable to improve on 14, leaving the Scots on 92 for four.

 

However, wicketkeeper-batsman Cross kept his cool and took control as he began to take the edge off Bilal Khan’s left-arm swing, but it was his partnership with Michael Leask that helped the Scots over the line. Leask had added 38 off 21 balls by the time he was caught trying to launch another boundary. Tom Sole then joined Cross, who ended a fine innings unbeaten on 61, to secure the win with an over to spare.

 

Scotland 186 for 5, Khan took 2 wickets for 38 and unruffled Oman became the sixth qualifier behind Scotland for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020.