Aqib Ilyas hauls Oman to top of League 2 table, as Nepal uncover a gem

Aqib Ilyas Oman
Aqib Ilyas cuts during T20WCQ against Canada

CWC League 2, Round 5, Game 4: Oman 250 for 2 Ilyas 108*, Maqsood 68*, Ali 41 defeated Nepal 249-8 Malla 56, Khadka 38, B Bhandari 36, Ilyas 4-36, Mohammad Nadeem 3-44 by 8 wickets with 16 balls remaining

With four of the six ODIs of this CWC League 2 round completed, Oman stretched their unbeaten run in Nepal to three, chasing down the hosts’ 249/8 with 16 balls remaining and eight wickets in the hutch on Sunday.

They now have 12 points after 10 matches and go a win clear of the USA.

Aqib Ilyas’ stock as an international cricketer has continued to rise as he collected his first ODI century, finishing unbeaten on 109 from 108 deliveries. He now leads the CWCL2 runs table with 505 from 9 matches, 143 runs clear of USA’s Aaron Jones.

Aqib Ilyas Oman
Aqib Ilyas now averages 64.5 in ODIs after 10 matches (Photo: ICC)

The right hander’s century followed up the four wickets he took in the first innings, his leg-spin quickly evolving from “part-time” to “strike bowler” level. He’s collected seven scalps during this series and his total of 11 has him tenth on the wickets tally.

He sent a scare through the camp when he went down grabbing at his right leg late in Nepal’s innings, but he came out to bat at number four, entering the fray on the final delivery of the 19th over with the score on 83, after Sushan Bari dismissed Khawar Ali for 41.

Besides a let off on 37 when he was dropped at backward point by Aarif Sheik from the medium pace of Karan KC, Aqib and his skipper put on a clinic of one-day batting. Their unbeaten stand of 167 went past the 140 of Monank Patel & Aaron Jones against Scotland in Sharjah to now sit atop CWCL2’s partnerships leaderboard.

Before Sunday, Zeeshan Maqsood had accumulated only 64 runs from Oman’s first seven matches in CWC League 2, but the talismanic skipper more than doubled that total with his unbeaten 68.

Zeeshan Maqsood
Zeeshan Maqsood (r) has finally found some form with the bat (Photio:ICC)

After coming into this tri-series, the third of nine they’ll play over the course of CWC League 2, USA would have been hoping to maintain their top spot, perhaps even pulling away from Oman.

Instead, they are winless after two and with a match each against Nepal and Oman to go, it is now or never for the USA to reconsider the decision to open with Aaron Jones, who has scores of 5 and 12 in Kathmandu. The bulk of his CWCL2 runs have come at number four, the position that former opener Monank Patel (19 & 4) now occupies. Whatever strategy was behind the decision to switch the two has not worked.

USA should have chased down Nepal’s 190 on Saturday in Game 3. Instead, they were left reeling after the new-look top order lost wickets at 6, 7, 9, 13 & 27. Number 5 Ian Holland’s 75 was the only score to break 20, as 8 American batters fell for single digits – they were bundled out for 155, as Karan KC took 4. Holland was also USA’s top scorer in their first match; his 65 from 78 underpinned the 213 which Oman chased down in the last over in Game 2.

Meanwhile, Nepal may just have unearthed their next superstar, Kushal Malla.

The young all-rounder set a new record for the youngest male to reach 50 in ODIs, ironically taking the place of the same player who he repaced in the side to make his debut, Rohit Paudel – who was dropped after a golden duck in Game 1.

The left-hander’s even half-century on debut came in 51 deliveries, including 4×4 & 3×6 and the next day, on Sunday against Oman, his 28 was from 24, this time with 2×4 & 2×6. Kushal also took a wicket in each game with his tidy left-arm spin.

With the blade, he is a dasher, not afraid to clear the boundaries straight, and one gets the feeling that we will be hearing a lot more about Kushal Malla.

After cutting his BBL stint short to make this series Sandeep Lamichhane has been disappointing, appearing to bowl without patience and too quickly through the air (even for him). His 20 overs against Oman conceded 110 runs for no wickets. He did take 2-27 he took against USA, however, the side Nepal play in their final game in this series on Wednesday.

Round results/schedule:

Wed 5 FebOman 197/9 defeated Nepal 179
Thu 6 FebOman 214/4 (49.3) defeated USA 213
Sat 8 FebNepal 190 defeated USA 155
Sun 9 FebOman 250/2 (47.2) defeated Nepal 249/8
Tues 11 FebOman v USA
Wed 12 FebUSA v Nepal

Points table after Game 4 of Round 5



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