Oman 131 for no loss (Ilyas 50*, Jatinder 73*) beat PNG 129 for 9 (Vala 56, Amini 37, Bilal 2-16, Kaleemullah 2-19, Maqsood 4-20) by 10 wickets
The much awaited T20 World Cup got underway with a bang at the beautiful Oman Academy Cricket Ground in Al Amerat, Oman. Conditions were brutal for players with the 35C afternoon sun beating down from above and glistening off the rugged Al-Hajar mountain ranges; proving a stunning backdrop for the cricket.
Oman decided to bowl first after winning the toss. They made a cracking start with Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah removing both of PNG’s opening batsmen within the first two overs. Bilal with his left-arm accuracy and late swing and Kaleemullah with his seam and bounce complemented each other perfectly, making runs hard to come by for PNG. It took 12 balls for PNG to score their first run, in what is their debut World Cup appearance.
The stranglehold was finally broken by Charles Amini hitting consecutive boundaries off Bilal in the 3rd over. A fantastic 81 run partnership ensued between Amini and skipper Asad Vala, both scoring timely boundaries alongside taking quick singles. At one stage, PNG looked set for a score of 150-160 runs but a devastating collapse drove a stake through their ambitions.
Firstly, Amini was run out in an unfortunate mix up. Then Kaleemullah, brought back into the attack, responded straight away by removing Vala for a crucial 56 runs off 43 balls. Finally, Oman skipper Zeehsan Maqsood broke the back of PNG’s batting, taking 3 wickets in the 16th over with his wily left-arm orthodox spin. He ultimately finished with 4 wickets; recording Oman’s best ever T20 bowling figures in the process (4-0-20-4).
Oman coast to victory
In response, Oman never looked in trouble chasing the small target of 129. The openers Jatinder Singh and Aaqib Ilyas brought up their 50 run and 100 run partnerships in the 7th and 12th overs respectively. Jatinder mixed crisp hitting with switch hits; while Ilyas was more circumspect in his approach. Jatinder finished with 73 not out off 42 balls, bringing up the victory with a pulled six over deep mid-wicket, in just 13.4 overs. Ilyas ended up with 50 off 43.
None of PNG’s bowlers came remotely close to taking a wicket, with the only opportunities being a dropped catch in the 10th over and a wicket off a no ball the very next over. The bowling figures made for particularly sorry reading.
The dispiriting 10 wicket thrashing sees PNG lose their 15th game in a row across the white ball formats (including the two warmups). It raises multiple questions for the Barramundis going into the next two games. On the other hand, Oman receives a more than healthy net run rate boost (+3.135) and will fancy their qualification prospects for the next round.
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