Oman 152/4 defeated USA 148 all out by six wickets
Windhoek – Despite patches of heavy rainfall in Windhoek in the days leading up to the tournament, the United Ground in Windhoek was a picture as Oman and the United States begun their campaigns. Oman, after an electric start with the ball, negotiated their chase to be comfortable six wicket winners.
Mohammad Nadeem and Suraj Kumar’s unbeaten 97-run partnership sewed up Oman’s first victory of the tournament, a crucial one given their favoured opposition. Despite a four wicket haul from Ali Khan and some early pressure from the group of bowlers, Oman held their nerve.
Associate cricket and specifically the World Cricket League always throws up heart-stopping results and shifts in momentum, with today’s game no different. Just as one side looked to have finally taken a stranglehold on the match, the other clawed their way back in. Even when Oman looked to be cruising, many around the traps at United still felt there was a final twist. It failed to materialise, with Suraj Kumar bringing up the victory with a boundary to hand him his first List A fifty since recently being drafted into the side.
Oman won the toss and Zeeshan Maqsood had no hesitation to bowl first on a United deck that looked to have some inconsistent bounce early on. Kaleemullah and Bilal Khan extracted the life in the surface early with some lively short-pitched bowling, though numerous deliveries failed to carry to ‘keeper Suraj Kumar.
USA’s luck was as it turned out, epitomised by their first wicket to fall. Xavier Marshall, backing up at the non-striker’s end, was adjudged to be out of his ground after a Monank Patel drive found Bilal Khan’s fingertips.
In what was a measured start for the Americans, Oman kept the pressure on, albeit with the help of the inconsistency in the wicket and the sluggish outfield at United. Perhaps affected by yesterday’s rain, twos and threes were the order of the day. Patel along with the middle order were able to capitalise on some lapses in the field by their opponents. Aqib Ilyas in one instance made a meal of what seemed to be an innocuous moment in the field.
Steven Taylor was given no freedom by the Omani bowlers, as he departed in the 11th over with Bilal Khan making the Kookaburra talk early. Wicket-keeper Suraj Kumar had little to do, with a simple edge carrying waist height.
Aaron Jones’ innings had a similar conclusion, albeit with Fayyaz Butt doing the damage. At 34-3 into the 13th over, The USA found themselves in an early hole.
A nervy incident involving USA ‘keeper-batsman Jaskaran Malhotra brought the game to a halt with an on-board ambulance called into action. Quick Mohammad Nadeem’s bouncer clocked the right-hander on the side of the helmet while trying to play a pull shot. Despite initially looking fine to continue, Malhotra stumbled and eventually fell to the turf.
With Malhotra off to hospital at the end of the 16th over, Monank Patel was joined by Hayden Walsh Junior who looked comfortable even early in his dig. Driving Fayyaz Butt for a well-timed three, he lost his partner Patel next ball. A short ball from Fayyaz brought out a cut shot from Patel, finding Kaleemullah on the fence taking a catch low at deep third man.
One man who looked more than comfortable was Monank Patel, who will be disappointed with his dismissal. Dealing with a barrage of short bowling from the pace trio, his top-edged hook off Fayyaz was taken low in the deep from fellow quick Kaleemullah, who managed to cup his hands after the tricky chance.
Walsh was joined by Tim Patel who looked to stop the bleeding, though Walsh followed those who fell before him, cleaned up by a Fayyaz Butt delivery that did deviate into the left-hander markedly.
Tim Patel and Roy Silva showed fight in their partnership of 45, and looked to have swung the momentum back, only for Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood to undo him. Khawar Ali the man to complete the catch. Silva fell 14 balls later, with Kaleemullah hurrying his foes up with his pace.
In what was one positive for the USA’s innings, Malhotra returned to continue his innings, with the team confirming that his trip for concussion tests were only precautionary. Wasting no time to continue his part in the day, he took Kaleemullah for a trip with an expansive on-drive on the up.
The respite though, was shortlived, with the keeper giving his wicket away with a soft caught and bowled to the opposition captain.USA were now eight down, with Netravalkar departing in the next over. Ali Khan was bowled out by his namesake Bill to draw the innings to a close. For all their dominance, Oman’s work was brought a little undone by extras that helped USA keep things ticking along. No less than 20 extras were bowled by the Omanis, giving the USA at least a glimmer of hope in defending their modest total of 148.
Oman were probably guilty of being a little too conservative early in their chase, with Ali Khan’s thunderbolts bringing them to their knees early. Hurrying Khawar Ali’s pull shot to find Elmore Hutchinson at mid wicket, he then picked up a second with his next ball. Digging out a full delivery Aqib Ilyas found Hayden Walsh Junior at backward, and after Omani protests, umpire Alex Dowdalls deemed the catch to be a fair one. Also forced to deal with Xavier Marshall’s dismissal, Dowdalls had a good day in the middle along with his partner Tabarak Dar.
Dowdalls again was called into action for Ali Khan’s hat-trick ball, with Zeeshan Maqsood surviving an animated shout by all eleven Americans. Dowdalls deemed the ball to perhaps be sliding down the leg side, in a decision that was re-affirmed by replays on hand.
Ali Khan’s third brought huge US celebration, with the bowler charging off the field of play in celebration. Jatinder Singh, who had his partners falling around him fell to another sharp delivery. With no footwork of note, the slash away from the body handed Malhotra’s first of two catches for the day.
USA’s chance to claim a fourth before the drinks break was squandered, after an edge from the skipper was put down by Xavier Marshall in the slip region. A clear cut chance, Marshall down low fluffed the chance, and gave Maqsood a vital life.
With Oman pulling away, Ali Khan gave USA hope again, finding Maqsood’s edge with was wonderfully taken low by Malhotra. Celebrating with dance moves, it could be argued that the USA were ahead in the game at that point.
With all the momentum, Oman through their fifth wicket partnership, held firm. As the wicket flattened, Mohammad Nadeem and Suraj Kumar showed maturity to put the game out of USA’s reach. Suraj, drafted into the side after some solid tour and domestic performances, showed no sign of pressure, smashing two fours and two sixes to his maiden List A fifty. Nadeem showed his middle order credentials with a mature 120-ball 55, as the pair cruised to the target and a vital day one win.