MUSCAT: Middle order mainstay Aqib Ilyas struck a fluent 80 not out as host Oman started another international tournament with an emphatic win, this time beating UAE by 5 wickets in the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 at its grassy ground 1 in Amerat on Sunday.
Oman first bowled brilliantly to dismiss UAE for 170, left-arm fast bowler Bilal Khan’s three-wicket opening burst taking the life out of the tourists’ ambition to fight followed by captain Zeeshan Maqsood’s miserly spell that accounted for four batsmen. The host nation then chased down the target in the 38th over thanks to brilliant batting by Aqib and opener Jatinder Singh who were involved in a 112-run third wicket partnership that literally sealed the game for Oman. Exhibiting a wide full range of shots, mixing caution with aggression, Aqib was adjudged player of the match for his unbeaten knock.
Coach Duleep Mendis was happy that his boys made a good start to the series but wanted them to come harder at Namibia in their next game.
“You have to be happy after beating UAE though they were missing some of their players. Our boys enjoy playing at home and you could see that. They bowled brilliantly and did not allow UAE to come back into the game. However, I would like to see improvement in our fielding in the next games and we are going to work on this in the two days we have before we take on Namibia on Wednesday,” he said.
The Oman coach said he expected a tougher game against Namibia.
“The boys are in good touch and we are looking forward to the game against Namibia which has beaten us a few times and lost to us too. We will certainly have to play better to beat them and this win against UAE has put us in the right frame of mind to do that,” Mendis added.
Bilal’s opening burst reduced UAE to 27 for 4 in the first ten overs, setting the tone for an arduous struggle against Oman’s potent pace and spin attack. After fast bowler Kaleemullah had opener Vriitya Aravind caught behind for 1, Bilal’s pace and swing did not allow UAE batsmen any breathing space to settle down, sending opener Chirag Suri (1), Darius D’Silva (4) and Basil Hameed (8) back to the pavilion one after the other.
Captain Maqsood made life even more difficult for the tourists, tying them in knots with his left-arm spin that either kept them puzzled or under pressure for most of the time. Only Muhammed Usman appeared to read him well and responded with a defiant 68 off 95, hitting eight boundaries and a six in his knock that lent UAE score some credibility as it reached 170 before being dismissed in the 48th over.
In the next game UAE takes on Namibia on Monday while Oman will play Namibia on Wednesday after Tuesday’s rest day.Brief Scores: UAE 170 all out in 47.1 overs (Muhammed Usman 68 – 8×4, 1×6, Rohan Mustafa 24 – 3×4, Waheed Ahmed 23 – 1×4, 1×6. Zeeshan Maqsood 4-15, Bilal Khan 3-38) lost to Oman 171 for 5 in 37.3 overs (Aqib Ilyas 80 not out – 7×4, Jatinder Singh 62 – 5×4. Muhammed Junaid Siddiqui 2-32, Ahmed Raza 2-37) by 5 wickets.