Muscat: Oman delivered a spectacular and clinical performance to secure their place in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, defeating Bahrain convincingly by ten wickets in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier Final in Kirtipur, Nepal on Friday. This marks Oman’s third appearance in the continental T20 showcase, having previously qualified in 2016 and 2021.
Oman, along with the host nation Nepal, secured their spots in the World Cup from Asia on Friday. Nepal trounced the UAE by eight wickets in the other semi-final. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 will feature 20 teams and will be co-hosted by the USA and the West Indies.
In the upcoming tournament, the 20 teams will be divided into four groups, each consisting of five teams, with the top two from each group advancing to the Super Eights stage. Duleep Mendis’ men outclassed their opponents on Friday, with their bowlers, led by the spin trio of Aqib Ilyas (4/10), Shakeel Ahmed (2/24), and captain Zeeshan Maqsood (1/17), confounding the Bahraini batters and restricting them to a paltry 106/9.
Oman’s chase turned into a stroll in the park, with openers Kashyap Prajapati and Pratik Athavale completing the victory in just 14.2 overs. Both batters scored half-centuries, sending the rival bowlers on a leather hunt. Prajapati remained unbeaten with 57 off 44, including six boundaries and two maximums, while Athavale reached his half-century milestone in style with two consecutive fours, compiling a deserving 50 studded with six hits to the ropes.
The victory was primarily set up by Oman’s bowlers, who capitalised on their familiarity with the playing conditions, having competed at the same venue for three consecutive games and were playing their fourth game at the same venue.
In contrast, it was Bahrain’s first match at the TU ground in Kirtipur. Oman entered the semi-finals with a hat-trick of wins in Group A, having defeated Malaysia, Singapore, and Nepal, to emerge as group toppers. Bahrain, on the other hand, scraped into the semis by finishing second in Group B, narrowly edging past Hong Kong based on a superior net run-rate (NRR).
Bahrain’s captain, Umer Toor, opted to bat first but was the first to depart in the second over, caught behind by Athavale off Fayyaz Butt, who replaced Kaleemullah in the playing XI. The first-wicket partnership of Sarfaraz Ali and Imran Ali pushed Bahrain to 45 runs before Sarfraz was dismissed by Shakeel for 23.
Maqsood then sent Sohail Ahmed back to the pavilion, leaving Bahrain struggling at 58/3 before the magic of Ilyas turned the game. Ilyas dismissed the well-settled Imran Ali for his first of four victims and later clean-bowled Haider Butt, leaving Bahrain at 69/5 in 13 overs. Ilyas completed his mesmerising spell with two successive wickets of Junaid Aziz and Sathaiya Veerapathiran, to return with figures of 4-1-10-4, and leave Bahrain tottering at 76/7.
An unbeaten 26 by Ahmer Bin Nisar helped Bahrain cross the 100-run mark, but with Shakeel and Bilal Khan cleaning up the tailenders, Bahrain could only manage a paltry 106.
Oman will now face hosts Nepal again in the final on Sunday, a rematch of their Group A concluding match on Thursday, which Oman won by a mere five runs.
In the other semi-final at the Mulpani ground, the UAE, choosing to bat, were restricted to 134/9. Vriitya Aravind top-scored with 64, but Kushal Malla (3/11) and Sandeep Lamichhane (2/14) made crucial breakthroughs.
Nepal successfully chased down the target, riding on Aasif Sheikh’s unbeaten half-century (64) and skipper Rohit Paudel’s 34 not out.
Brief scores: Bahrain 106/9 (Imran Ali 30, Sarfaraz Ali 23, Ahmer Bin Nisar 26; Aqib Ilyas 4/10, Shakeel Ahmed 2/24) lost to Oman 109/0 in 14.2 overs (Kashyap Prajapati 57*, Pratik Athavale 50*). UAE 134/9 (Vriitya Aravind 64, Muhammed Waseem 26; Kushal Malla 3/11, Sandeep Lamichhane 2/14) lost to Nepal 135/2 in 17.1 overs (Aasif Sheikh 64*, Rohit Paudel 34*, Gulshan Jha 22).
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