Despite winning admirers for their enthusiastic brand of cricket and excellent kits, Nigeria are still searching for their first victory on the field, as Oman got their campaign back on track after Monday’s loss to Ireland by making short work of the Africans with both bat and ball.
The toss was seemingly the only thing that went Nigeria’s way, with skipper Ademola Onikoyi electing to bat first. All at sea against Oman’s pace duo of Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah, Leke Oyede was pinned LBW for 1 off 9 deliveries as part of a wicket-maiden in Khan’s second over. His top-order colleague Daniel Ajekun fared slightly better as he battled to a team topscore of 16 (21), but with just 21 runs on the board at the end of the powerplay, Nigeria looked thoroughly outmatched.
The introduction of left arm orthodox from Man of the Match Aamir Kaleem saw the end of Ajekun and his replacement Chimeze Onwuzelike with two wickets in the 9th over, as Nigeria slumped to 36/4 before Onikoyi and Isaac Okpe stubbornly dug in for their team’s longest partnership. Lasting five overs and scraping together just 16 runs, it was all the pair could do not to get out.
Kaleem’s third over ended their resistance though, as he castled Okpe and had Daniel Gim caught by yesterday’s hero Khawar Ali in consecutive balls. Sesan Adeji kept out the hattrick ball, but Kaleem’s 4/14 had bulldozed the Nigerian middle order, and Bilal Khan’s pace returned to blast out the tail. By then Nigeria had crawled to 71, and they couldn’t quite bat their full quota, with last man out Sylvester Okpe having his stumps knocked back on the penultimate ball of the innings. Oman were eyeing off a boost to their NRR, which, with 5 teams in Group B currently on 4 points, will almost certainly play a part at the back end of the group stage.
Jatinder Singh provided the momentum the Omanis needed, blitzing 48 off just 22 balls as he pillaged 9 fours and a six. Nigeria rotated through 6 bowlers in just 7 overs, but no-one could stop Jatinder until it was much too late, with him caught going hard against Sylvester Okpe just 6 runs short of the target. Aqib Ilyas also stumbled at the finish line, caught off Runsewe in the last over of the chase before Khurram Nawaz and, fittingly, Aamir Kaleem, finished the job. And while it was against the weakest side in the group, the urgency with which Oman chased down a modest target will be encouraging, as it was arguably complacency from 2 easy chases which bogged them down slightly against Ireland.