Oman 285 for 5 (Prajapati 72, Maqsood 59, Ilyas 52, Addar 2-47, Little 2-47) lost Ireland 281 for 7 (Dockrell 91*, Tector 52, Bilal 2-64, Budd 2-65) by five wickets
Chasing 282 against heavily favored Ireland with five wickets and 11 balls to spare in Bulawayo on the second day of the World Cup qualifiers, Oman inflicted their first defeat of the tournament.
Sent in to bat, the new opening pair of Andy McBrien and Paul Stirling immediately hit their straps and added 51 runs in nine overs. At the 9 am start, the pacers were given plenty of movement, but Oman quicks Fayaz Butt and Bilal Khan failed to capitalize on it and conceded too many frees.
However, almost against the run of play, Ireland lost both openers in successive balls. After nailing the previous ball from Bilal, Stirling hit the same shot on the same ball. The difference as a fielder moved to deep backward square leg and Stirling toeed it straight down his throat. The very next ball, McBrien was dismissed to a harmless short ball outside mid-off.
Things got worse for Ireland as captain Andrew Palbirnie fell for 7 off 19 balls as they lost 3 for 18 in seven overs. It was a test for Ireland with the trio of Maqsood, Ian Khan and Jay Odetra building them up.
Lorcan Tucker was cleaned up by Ion, but Doughrell and Harry Tucker put on 79 for the fifth wicket. Dektor fell after his half-century but Dogrell took the innings deep. He helped Ireland score 86 runs in the last ten overs. But the fact that they faced 157 dot balls in their innings will always haunt them.
At no point did Oman look deep in the chase. Bright sunshine made things easier for the batsmen, but the lack of tension in Oman’s chase was a sight to behold.
Mark Adair rounded the ball up and edged Jatinder Singh at second slip. However, Prajapati and Ilyas ensured that the required run rate did not get out of hand. They kept good balls out and used loose balls. Ilias targeted Graham Hume for three consecutive fours in the seventh over. The duo put on 94 off 88 balls for the second wicket before Ilyas edged Daghrell to short fine leg.
Maqsood came in at number 4 and added 63 runs with Prajapathi and then added a 56-run partnership with Mohammad Nadeem. At no point did the required rate go above six an over as the Oman batsmen continued to hit boundaries and rotate the strike brilliantly.
Maqsood reached his fifty off 58 balls and though he fell soon after, there was no flutter in the Oman camp. Nadeem (46 not out), Ayan (21) and Shoaib Khan (19) played their part for the Oman home side.
Ashish Pant is Associate Editor of ESPNcricinfo
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