MUSCAT, oct 26 – Oman made a big leap towards T20 World Cup qualification by beating Canada in a comprehensive 8-wicket win at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It can now book second successive berth at ICC’s showpiece event in Australia next year by beating Jersey on Sunday as Group toppers will win automatic qualification. “After the way we played and dominated Canada, I am sure we will cross the final hurdle as well by beating Jersey. My boys are pretty confident of finishing on top,” said an elated Duleep Mendis, Oman’s Head Coach.
Helped by a record 126-run partnership between player of the match Jatinder Singh (68 not out off 39 balls) and Aaqib Ilyas (60 off 39), Oman made an in-form Canada look like an ordinary side consigned to chasing the leather.
Fighting for qualification, the two teams tried to tame each other in powerplays but only Oman was able to fight back and dominate.
Canada got off to an explosive start, scoring 56 in the powerplay. The Canadian assault was led by opener Srimantha Wijeyeratney who contributed a scintillating 56 off 36. Oman fought back by introducing spinners early who tied the Canadians into knots, forcing them to make mistakes and lose track. A total of 144 for 9 was certainly far below what they looked like posting after the first 6 overs. Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood captured 3 for 25 but it were leg-spinner Khawar Ali and left-arm spinner Aamir Kaleem who did the early damage bowling under pressure, taking 2 for 18 and 1 for 24 respectively.
Oman lost opener Khawar Ali early when he was caught in the slip off pacer Jeremy Gordon but his departure brought Aaqib and Jatinder together who kept the Canadians on a leather hunt for the rest of innings, unleashing an array of strokes all around the park in a record 126-run partnership for the second wicket, highest for Oman in a T20 match. It took Oman only 14.5 overs to overhaul the target and shoot to the top of the table with 8 points off 5 games before Ireland beat Nigeria on Saturday to regain the top spot due to a better net run rate by finishing its Group B campaign on 8 points from 6 games. Oman can be back on top if it beats Jersey on Sunday and ends its group phase on 10 points. An upset win for Jersey will mean the topper will be decided with the help of a calculator.
The battle for four semifinal spots is still on and the UAE’s game against Canada on Sunday will decide which teams from Group B will reach the last four stage.
Oman coach said he was delighted to see his boys bat so well after a long time.
“I was very confident a total of 144 would not be sufficient for Canada but the way Jatinder and Aaqib batted was so heartening to see. It was fantastic batting, something I have not seen from our boys in recent past. It was a clinical finish and Canada could do nothing to stop them,” he added.
Brief scores: Canada 144 for 9 in 20 overs (Srimantha Wijeyeratney 56 – 9×4, Nitish Kumar 22 – 1×4, Ravinderpaul Singh 21 – 1×4. Zeeshan Maqsood 3-25, Khawar Ali 2-18, Amir Kaleem 1-24) lost to Oman 145 for 2 in 14.5 overs (Jatinder Singh 68 not out – 9×4, 1×6, Aaqib Ilyas – 60 – 7×4, 1×6) by 8 wickets.