Shahzad Raza –

Oman added another feather to its cap, beating Test nation Ireland by 43 runs in a Pentangular T20 Series clash on Sunday here at Oman Cricket Turf 1 in Amerat.
Having defeated Hong Kong in what looked like a one-sided game, Oman humbled Ireland in yet another powerful performance in the tournament. In what could be the team’s best tribute to its own talent, Oman fought back every time it was put under pressure by the Irish before running away with the game in style.
Team analysts are now working overtime to find out the formula that can be applied to beat Oman on its home ground. Sultanate has hardly lost a tournament game on its home soil in the last two years.
“Hats off to our boys who have been working hard under the hot sun for a few weeks now. All that hard work is now paying off in this tournament. Two wins in a row is fantastic but beating a strong side like Ireland is certainly special,” said Pankaj Khimji, the team’s mentor and senior OC Board Member.
When asked how would he rate Sunday’s victory, Pankaj said, “This must rank as one of the finest victories Oman has ever had. Beating Ireland in the T20 World Cup a few years back in India and now repeating the feat on home turf when it is a Test nation is very very special for Oman. We are proud of our team which keeps paying us back more than we do. We are glad that providing all the support staff to the team has been worth every penny. I hope this confidence will help our boys to perform even better in UAE where they will be fighting for ICC T20 World Cup qualification.”
Madhu Jesrani, OC Secretary, said he felt very proud of how Oman had performed in the T20 series so far.
“This is certainly a very special win for us as it would boost our boys’ confidence for the main ICC tournament we are going to play soon after this series. We have a quality team with brilliant fast bowlers, excellent spinners and great depth in our batting. It’s not easy beating teams like Ireland which are now playing at the highest level. Our hard work is paying off and we are absolutely delighted,” added Jesrani, who has been serving Oman Cricket for the last four decades.
Asked to bat first, Oman lost three of their most experienced batsmen for 44 by the 7th over before bouncing back with an 85-run partnership between opener Jatinder Singh and Syed Amir Kaleem, who scored 40 and 46 respectively. Ahmed Fayyaz But provided the perfect ending to its innings, tonking the last two balls for huge sixes as Oman set Ireland a challenging 174 to win. Aqib Ilyas contributed 21 off 19. Stuart Thompson and Mark Adair bagged two wickets each.

Packed with plenty of power hitters, Ireland responded with a blistering assault on Oman bowlers, racing to 53 for 1 by the 5th over before the hosts began to match fire with fire. Kaleem broke the 50-run partnership by removing both Kevin O’Brien (39 off just 16 including 4 sixes) and Andy Bilbirnie (19 off 13) in quick succession.
Knowing it was time to attack, captain Zeeshan Maqsood introduced its two most in-form bowlers Muhammed Nadeem and Khawar Ali who ran through Irish batting by claiming three wickets each as the tourists fumbled and folding up for 130 in 16.2 overs. Nadeem, in particular, was outstanding on Sunday, taking three superb catches too, to complement his brilliant spell of pace bowling in which he conceded only 14 runs in 4 overs. Left-arm fast bowler Bilal Khan struck twice at crucial times to exhibit his immense value to the team.
Captain Maqsood said the team’s morale was very high after its win over the Irish.
“Of course, we are happy but we had worked really hard for this. We knew it was important to beat sides like Ireland, Netherlands and Nepal to boost our confidence for the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier. I am glad we are well on our way to doing that,” he said. Oman will now take on the Netherlands on Wednesday before playing Nepal on Thursday, the last day of the tournament which will decide the winner with maximum points.

Brief scores: Oman 173 for 9 in 20 overs (Amir Kaleem 46 – 2×4, 3×6, Jatinder Singh 40 – 2×4, 1×6, Aqib Ilyas 19 – 3×4. Stuart Thompson 2021, Mark Adair 2-27) beat Ireland 130 all out in 16.2 overs (Kevin O’Brien 39 – 2×4, 4×6, Andy Bilbirne 19 – 4×4, Mark Adair 18. Muhammed Nadeem 3-14, Khawar Ali 3-28, Bilal Khan 2-15, Amir Kaleem 2-22) by 43 runs.

Today’s matches: Netherlands vs Nepal (9.30 am), Hong Kong vs Ireland (1.30). Tuesday: Rest day.