Oman seals World Twenty20 berth with memorable win over Namibia
Oman have clinched a spot in next year’s World Twenty20 to be held in India, ESPNCricinfo reported. Their five-wicket win over Namibia also means the cricketing minnows have secured T20 international status for the next four years.
Oman chased down the target of 149 with an over to spare thanks to an unbeaten half-century by Zeeshan Siddiqui. The Pakistani-born cricketer scored 51 runs off just 32 balls and fittingly scored the winning runs with a six over long-off as Oman secured their place at a major ICC event for the first time in their history.
Jatinder Singh and Maqsood Hussain provided the stability at the top of the order for Oman allowing the 36-year-old to race away to the target but the part played by the bowlers cannot be ignored. They did well to restrict the Namibian score after a blistering start and at a high-scoring venue like Malahide, a score of 148 was never going to be enough.
Oman skipper Sultan Ahmed opted to field first after winning the toss and tasted early success as Gerrie Snyman was out for a duck of the second ball he faced. They couldn’t capitalise further though and were guilty of missing some golden chances as Namibia raced to 80/2 in 10 overs.
Stephan Baard was the main architect of the African nation’s innings with a 52-ball 62 and found good support in Raymond van Schoor as the duo put on 66 runs for the second wicket. Oman were able to peg back Namibia after the half-way mark though with some disciplined bowling and suffered a free fall of wickets towards the end as they slumped from 134/4 to finish at 148/9 in their allotted 20 overs.
Munis Ansari was the pick of the bowlers for Oman as he picked up three wickets, including two in the 18th and 20th overs giving away just 12 runs. He found good support in his new bowl partner Ajay Lalchetta and Aamir Kaleem who picked up two wickets each.
The Oman openers were quick in their response and notched up 41 runs of their first five overs. They however lost three wickets while adding just 26 runs in the next four overs which left their fans with reasons to worry. Siddiqui and Jatinder however, kept the scoreboard ticking with quick singles and twos on their way to a 62-run partnership. They were thus able to nullify the threat of Bernard Scholtz who finished with figures of 29/1 of his four overs, his second-worst return for the tournament.
Jatinder’s run out 20 runs away from the target might have led to some nerves in the Oman dressing room, but Siddiqui kept his cool out in the middle to hand Oman one of their biggest achievements in sporting history. It was a fairytale ending for the nation who had started the tournament with a loss against Kenya before pulling off victories against Canada, Netherlands and Afghanistan. The latter themselves managed to qualify as well meaning there will be seven Asian teams at T20’s showcase event in 2016.