Oman upset Ireland to begin their campaign in style at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier

Sports Monday 19/June/2023 19:29 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman upset Ireland to begin their campaign in style at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier
Skipper Maqsood was named the Player of the Match. (Photo Credits: ICC/Getty)

Muscat: Oman produced an epic upset in the world of cricket when they stunned Test-playing Ireland by five wickets to begin their campaign in a Group B match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier at the Bulawayo Athletic Club in Zimbabwe on Monday.

This was the first time that Oman had defeated a Test-playing nation in ODI though cricket lovers in Oman would be reminded of the historic win against the same opponents in the ICC T20 World Cup first round in the Indian city of Dharamshala on March 9, 2016.

Kashyap Prajapati (Photo Credits: ICC/Getty)

But this was the maiden victory for Duleep Mendis’ Men in Red as a combined effort from their batters chased down Ireland’s target of 281 on a flat pitch. Three half-centuries from Kashyap Prajapati (72), Aqib Ilyas (52) and skipper Zeeshan Maqsood (59) along with an unbeaten 46 from Mohammad Nadeem led Oman to victory with five wickets and 11 balls left as they scored 285/5. Ayaan Khan (21) and Shoaib Khan (19*) made useful contributions to ensure a calm and crafty chase.

Skipper Maqsood was named the Player of the Match. During the post-match presentation, he said: "Credit goes to team-mates, organisers, coach and families. It was painful to get out. Whatever comes, I take it. It was [a big score], but the wicket played very well in the second half. I am in good form, and just want to carry that."

The all-rounder added: "It's an honour [to beat Ireland in the first ODI between them]. Definitely [a special day in Oman cricket]. If we continue like this, some more results will be in our favour. It was a collective and combined performance, which we need to beat a good side. We came here to go there (to India) and play."

Ireland would have been confident after a flurry of lower-order runs helped them to 281/7 against Oman, with Harry Tector and George Dockrell starring with the bat after Oman won the toss and elected to bowl.

Ilyas and Prajapati (Photo Credits: ICC/Getty)

Ireland kept the momentum going when Mark Adair had opener Jatinder Singh caught at second slip for one run. But a partnership worth 94 between Ilyas and Prajapati laid the foundations for Oman.

Both batters reached their half-centuries before Ilyas departed for a 49-ball 52 to Dockrell, but the wicket didn’t derail the innings.

Prajapati and skipper Maqsood kept the runs flowing, adding 62 from the third wicket before the opener finally fell to Josh Little for an excellent 72.

And Little struck again to have Maqsood caught behind for 59 and give his team hope.

Ayaan Khan’s run-a-ball 21 was ended by Adair’s caught and bowled, but with Mohammad Nadeem firing to 46*, Oman closed in on victory.

And the winning runs came at the start of the penultimate over, with Shoaib Khan crunching a four to spark jubilant celebrations

Earlier, Andrew Balbirnie confirmed at the toss that Andy McBrine would open the batting with Paul Stirling having experimented with the idea during the warm-up encounters.

Ben White was also named as an extra spinner in the team, and the side welcomed back Josh Little who sat out their Test match with England. Oman largely stuck with the side that got them through the League 2 campaign.

Batting first, Andy McBrine and Paul Stirling took the attack to the Oman bowlers to set the tone early. The openers struck a boundary each in the second over that set the ball rolling for Ireland and found the boundaries with ease for most of the Powerplay.

Just when the duo looked set for a big opening partnership having just completed a 50-run stand, the short-ball ploy bright their downfall in consecutive deliveries. Stirling holed out in the deep to a pull shot while McBrine mistimed his attempt to clear the ring straight into the hands of mid-off.

The consecutive wickets halted Ireland's momentum and put the brakes on their scoring, eventually leading to the wicket of captain Andy Balbirnie whose drive only managed the outside edge into the safe hands of Naseem Khushi.

Harry Tector, the ICC Men's Player of the Month for May 2023, got going with two crisp drives. Lorcan Tucker too joined hands as the pair added quick runs in the middle overs to make up for the lull. Tucker smashed Ayaan Khan for consecutive boundaries but it was the left-arm spinner who had the last laugh with a ripper to dismiss the wicketkeeper-batter for an 18-ball 26.

With Oman using left-arm spin to keep Ireland quiet, George Dockrell decided to upset their rhythm with two boundaries off Ayaan Khan, taking Ireland to 125/4 after 25 overs.

Gareth Delany (20 off 14), Mark Adair (15 off 11) and Graham Hume (15* off 12) all scored quickly as Dockrell carried on at the other end.

Fayyaz Butt took two wickets for Oman (Photo Credits: ICC/Getty)

And the 30-year-old finished unbeaten on 91* to help Ireland to a competitive total, with Bilal Khan and Fayyaz Butt took two wickets apiece in the pick of the figures for Oman.

Speaking after the defeat, Ireland skipper Balbirnie said: "Very disappointing... we felt like we had a pretty good score. Like I said, 280 in a one-day game is pretty good. They were hard to bowl at times. We felt right in the game. Oman's win didn't take us by surprise... it's a long tournament. We need to get back into it pretty quickly. Ben did a pretty good job. He will get better."

Brief scores: Ireland 281/7 (Harry Tector 53, George Dockrell 91; Bilal Khan 2/64, Fayyaz Butt 2/65) lost to Oman 285/5 in 48.1 overs (Kashyap Prajapati 72, Aqib Ilyas 52, Zeeshan Maqsood 59, Mohammed Nadeem 46 n.o.; Josh Little 2/47, Mark Adair 2/47). (With inputs from