A tense game of fluctuating fortunes and shifts in momentum ultimately fizzled out to a pedestrian conclusion as Oman decelerated into their second defeat of the tournament, this time against Jersey. Needing a win to seal top spot in Group B (and with it automatic qualification for the T20 World Cup), the Sultanate displayed a puzzling lack of intensity in the back end of their chase to gift Jersey a consolation win and Ireland their place in Australia next year. For Jersey it underlined their skill, though Hong Kong’s demolition of Nigeria earlier in the day ensured that they remained ahead of the Channel Islanders on NRR.
After thrashing Canada by chasing on Friday night, Zeeshan Maqsood again opted to field first. Jersey got off to a bright start through openers Nick Ferraby (41 off 33) and Nick Greenwood (22 off 18), who combined with alert running between the wickets and some punchy 4s – Ferraby flicking the quicks through leg and sweeping imperiously off Amir Kaleem, while Greenwood played one for the highlight reel with a glorious square drive from seamer Mohammed Nadeem to bring up the team 50 in the 6th over.
A productive powerplay had set Jersey up for a big total, but Nadeem fought back as he punched through their middle order with four wickets in his next three overs – castling Greenwood then trapping his replacement Ben Stevens in front for LBW, before Ferraby fell as he miscued a pull shot straight into the waiting hands of Khawar Ali on the rope at backward square. Nadeem then returned to complete the demolition job and dismiss star batsman Jonty Jenner, who was comprehensively beaten playing across one that jagged off the pitch to knock back the top of middle stump. Jersey were reeling at 79/4 and Nadeem had a career-best haul of 4/18.
The rot continued when Cory Bisson holed out against Zeeshan Maqsood, slicing a miscued drive to long off, then Khawar Ali entered the attack to choke off Jersey’s recovery efforts with his stifling lines. Bilal Khan was manipulated effectively for runs, but after their start, Jersey looked slightly disappointed with 141/7.
With a flawless chase in their last match, Oman may well have anticipated cruising to victory. But an astonishing triple-wicket over from Dominic Blampied shook them out of any complacency – he struck first ball, trapping Khawar Ali LBW as he got down on one knee attempting to sweep, then two balls later had Aqib Ilyas caught off a swiped pull shot to mid-on as Jenner pouched an excellent running chance on the rope. Finally, Aamir Kaleem’s cut shot was intercepted by an excellent forward-diving catch by Greenwood.
Well and truly in the hole at 6/3 after just two overs, Jatinder Singh and Maqsood set about rebuilding. Jatinder was happy to play second fiddle after his heroics against Canada, as Maqsood kept boundaries flowing and and knocked regular singles and twos into the plentiful gaps which opened up after the powerplay. Highlights included his sumptuous drive over extra cover off Blampied, and a glorious back-foot punch from a Ben Ward half-tracker.
With the partnership reaching 76, and Maqsood approaching 50, the equation had dropped to 60 required off the last 8 overs. Jersey looked as though they’d let the cat well and truly out of the bag, with the Omanis cruising.
There was another twist, as the 11th over saw Maqsood starting to tire in the sapping heat, with a lengthy break for medical attention. After the pause, left-armer Eliott Miles struck the next over, Jatinder knocking a tame C&B back off his finger spin to depart for 29 (28). Miles then had Suraj Kumar holing out in his next over and, with Maqsood unable to run singles as fluently, the required rate began to creep up. When Miles finally dismissed Maqsood, slog-sweeping to the man at deep square, Oman needed 37 from their final 3 overs. Jersey’s bowlers tightened the squeeze, and despite a pair of rank full tosses from Perchard being dispatched by Goud and Kaleemullah in the penultimate over, Oman simply didn’t find the urgency to get over the line, ultimately falling 14 runs short
It was an odd conclusion, as despite the generally disciplined bowling it seemed like Oman had taken the chase a little too casually considering direct qualification was on the line. Ireland will certainly be thanking Chuggy Perchard’s men, though, as they move directly into the final round of qualifying in Australia – the so-called first round.