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Maqsood dazzles in Oman win, Canada stay top

Zeeshan Maqsood
Zeeshan Maqsood

MUSCAT: Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood’s career-best T20I knock, an unbeaten 102, led his team to a massive 106-run win over Bahrain in the Desert Cup T20I Series at the Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) ground in Al Amerat on Saturday.

In the other match of the evening, Canada bounced back from their loss to Bahrain to rout Saudi Arabia and stay on top of the table with eight points.

A day after Al Amerat skyline was lit up with dazzling drone and laser shows to mark Oman’s 52nd National Day, Maqsood lit up the skyline in Amerat again with his batting fireworks as he blasted his maiden T20I century – 102 not out in just 44 balls.

He achieved his personal milestone in style, hammering the last ball of Oman’s innings to a six, to complete a stunning century and give his side a formidable total of 220/5.

Maqsood’s late charge saw seven of his nine maximums come in the last three overs of the innings. His knock was also studded with seven boundaries as Oman put a step on the gas to race from 149/4 to 220 in the final 24 balls.

Maqsood was given good support by Mohammed Nadeem with a 19-ball 30 and Rafiullah with a 14-ball 25. Earlier, openers, Jatinder Singh (28) and Kashyap Prajapati (13) gave the hosts a quick start with Duleep Mendis’ wards ensuring the scoring tempo at a good pace.

Bahrain’s frontline bowlers, Imran Khan, Rizwan Butt, Sathiayah Veerapathiran and Imran Javed, went for plenty with Butt and Khan conceding 53 and 45 runs in their respective spell of four overs.

Chasing a target of 221, Bahrain needed a strong start but Bilal Khan got an early breakthrough with skipper Sarfraz Ali out for just 4. Imran Javed (22) and David Mathias put up a fightback to lead the team to 60 in 6.5 overs. However, Rafiullah’s double strike off two successive balls put Bahrain on the back foot. Mathias’ dismissal by Samay Shrivastava for 39 in the 12th over triggered a collapse.

Bahrain then spun into Shrivastava’s web as the leg-spinner picked up four more wickets to end with figures of 4-0-18-5. Except for Ahmed Bin Nasir (28 not out), Bahrain batters failed to put up a fight as their innings folded for just 114 in 16 overs.

Bilal Khan and Rafiullah bagged two wickets apiece while Sandeep Goud also took one.

The big victory for Oman helped them climb past Bahrain to second spot on better net run-rate (NRR) with both teams having six points each. Oman’s NRR is +2.6061 while Bahrain’s NRR is -0.4300.

With just one more round-robin match remaining on Sunday, Oman are in a must-win situation against Canada to eye a spot in the final on Monday. Bahrain take on minnows Saudi Arabia in their next match. A win for Oman and Bahrain will leave the three teams tied on eight points each with NRR to decide the finalists for Monday.

In the other game, Canada, put to bat, set a total of 171/6 with Matthew Spoors top-scoring with 44. Harsh Thaker made 37 while Saad Zafar’s unbeaten 25 off 11 balls gave the team a late impetus. Usman Najeeb claimed three for 22 while Ishtiaq Ahmad took 2/23.

Saudi Arabia were then restricted to 126/8 with Saad Khan the main run-getter (29). Ammar Khalid was the pick of Canada bowlers with 4/17 while Kaleem Ur-Rehman, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta took one wicket each as Canada registered a 45-run victory.

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