Muscat: With a couple of consolation wins against Kenya on the last two days of their trip, Oman avoided the ignominy of finishing last in the six-team ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 competition in Namibia.
Having lost the opportunities to win promotion as well as participate in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers by finishing as one of the top two teams, Oman could not prevent relegation to WCL Division 3 but delivered two parting shots against Kenya good enough to convince everyone why they were among the fancied sides to play at a higher level.
Smarting from two consecutive defeats, Kenya can now be called upon to testify what could have been had Oman hit the form a little earlier in the tournament.
Playing for the fifth place, Oman won the game by five wickets to ensure it did not return home empty handed. Two of their fast bowlers Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah, with bagful of wickets, impressed everyone and were rightly picked by Cricinfo in its WCL Division 2 Dream Team.
Bilal in particular was outstanding throughout the tournament, taking 17 wickets at 10.76 to be declared the joint highest wicket-taker along with Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichchane.
Kaleemullah, extracting considerable movement and bounce, bagged a total of 10 wickets.
Opting to field first, Oman put the Kenyans under the mat for the second successive day, reducing the African side to 105 for five and then 148 for seven.
However, a 91-run eighth-wickets partnership between S. Nogoche (66 off 68) and N. Odhiambo (42 off 41) helped Kenya to a healthy total of 253 before getting all out in 49.5 overs. R. Patel was the other notable scorer with 31 off 46.
Bilal Khan was once again brilliant with the ball, taking five for 40 while Khawar Ali claimed three for 48.
Oman overhauled the target with three overs to spare, losing only five wickets in the process. Khawar Ali played another splendid knock, scoring an unbeaten 112 off 142. Vaibhav Wategaonkar (67 and 65), Zeeshan Maqsood (33 off 23) and Aya Lalcheta (28 off 36) were the other leading scorers.
A day earlier, Oman, chasing a rain-curtailed target of 183 in 42 overs after Kenya were dismissed for 200, won the game with two wickets and five balls remaining.
Kaleemullah played the leading role in Kenyan collapse, taking three for 25 while pacers Ahmed Fayyaz Butt (2 for 41) and Bilal Khan (2 for 49) were equally impressive.
Zeeshan Maqsood led the batting honours for Oman, topscoring with 58 off 33. Jay Odedara (23 not out off 36), Jatinder Singh (22 off 43) and Muhammed Nadeem (20 off 33) were the other notable scorers. H Varaiya took three for 28 for Kenya.