Muscat: Hosts Oman regained their winning touch as they trounced Saudi Arabia by seven wickets while Canada’s three-match unbeaten streak ended with an eight-wicket loss at the hands of Bahrain in the Desert Cup T20I Series at the Oman Cricket Academy grounds in Al Amerat on Thursday night.
Despite the loss, Canada lead the standings with six points but on better net run-rate (NRR) after Bahrain also climbed up to six points. Oman has four points while Saudis have yet to open their account.
Oman, who had lost their previous two encounters to Bahrain and Canada respectively by slender margins, were dominating against the Saudis, the most inexperienced side in the four-nation tournament.
Skipper Zeeshan Maqsood turned out to be the hero of the team’s win, only the second in the tournament, both the wins coming against the Saudis.
Put to bat first, Saudi Arabia were restricted to 114/8. Kashif Siddique top-scored with 28 while Irshad Mubbashar made a useful 21. Opener Faisal Khan’s 16 got the Saudis to a slow start but his dismissal was quickly followed by his opening partner Saad Khan.
Siddique and skipper Abdul Waheed then stitched a 31-run stand but the latter’s dismissal off his counterpart Maqsood led to a middle order collapse. From 63/3, Saudis were soon 80/6 in a span of five overs. Mubbashar and Hisham Sheikh’s lusty hits took the team to 114.
Maqsood’s spell of 2/10 in his four overs strangled the rival batting while Kaleemullah, Rafiullah, Mohammed Nadeem and Sandep Goud picked a wicket apiece.
Chasing a modest total, Oman raced to win in 12.4 overs scoring 118/3, with Jatinder Singh and Shoaib Khan scoring 35 and 36 respectively. Jatinder’s knock had three boundaries and two sixes in his 24-ball stay while Shoaib shared a similar number of boundaries during his unbeaten innings off 27 deliveries.
Rafiullah’s blitz of 24 off just nine balls included a boundary and three sixes to help the hosts gain win and improve their net run-rate. Muhammad Saqib took two for 17 for Saudi Arabia.
Big win for Bahrain
In the other match of the night, table-toppers Canada was upset by Bahrain. Put to bat first, Canada’s last match hero and centurion Aaron Johnson departed for a duck in the first over. Srimantha Wijeyeratne, who had hit a hal-century in the match against Oman on Wednesday, too departed and Canada were down to 12/3 in the fourth over and 31/4 by the seventh over as Rizwan Butt picked two wickets and Sathaiya Veerapathiran and Imran Anwar taking the other wickets.
Pargat Singh stopped the slide to give his team a total to fight as he stayed unbeaten on 61 off 51 balls. Along with Ravinderpal Singh, who departed for 47, the pair put on 67-run crucial stand to help the team reach 160/6. Butt ended with figures of 3/25.
Bahrain’s openers, David Mathias and skipper Sarfaraz Ali then tore apart the Canada attack in a blistering 81-run stand in 8.4 overs to put the team on course.
Sarfaraz was run out for 56 off 26 balls that included five fours and five maximums.
Ahmer Bin Nisar was the only other batter to be out for 16 as Mathias, who stayed unbeaten on 59 off 57 balls (5x4, 2x6) and Sohail Ahmed, unbeaten on a 16-ball 31 (2x4, 2x6), took the team to an easy victory, scoring 164/2 in 19.1 overs, for their third successive win.