When the ICC World T20 schedule was announced, few would have given Oman a chance of qualifying ahead of the experienced Bangladesh and Ireland from their qualifying group.
However, against the popular perception, Oman didn't just stun the Irish side on their World T20 debut, but they are now on the verge of qualifying for the Super 10 stage as they take on Bangladesh in the knockout clash on 13 March.
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Oman, who qualified for the ICC mega event for the first time in their cricket history, continued their improbable journey in the shortest format with a historic two-wicket win against Ireland. As with most such historic victories, there were multiple heroes for Oman.
Munees Ansari (3 for 37), Aamir Kaleem (1 for 27) and Khawar Ali (1 for 20) starred with the ball and helped restrict Ireland to 154 for 5 before more heroes arose in the batting unit.
Openers Zeeshan Maqsood and Khawar set the platform with a 69-run stand before a stunning cameo from Amir Ali, making his debut at the age of 37, grabbed the match from Ireland with a 17-ball 32. In the end, Oman finished on 157 for 8 with two deliveries to spare.
Given their recent exploits on the field, the free-spirited Sultan Ahmed side will surely be high on confidence against Bangladesh. However, confidence alone won't help them if the iffy Dharamsala weather intervenes.
The incessant rain in Dharamsala has already knocked two of the Associate nations (Ireland and Netherlands) out, rather unfairly. Oman, too, face a similar threat that can bring an end to their dream run in the tournament.
Their fixture against Bangladesh is a knockout game but if rain plays spoilsport, Mashrafe Mortaza's men will walk into the Super 10 stage on the basis of a superior Net Run Rate.
Bangladesh are clear favourites going into in the crunch match. But, Oman's is the story that is grabbing all the attention lately. The minnows have proved to be giant-killers and their ever-improving performance can very well help them secure the historic qualification.
Soumya Sarkar (BAN): The 23-year-old batsman has been flourishing in the act of providing quick starts to his side early on. He was prolific with the bat in the recently-concluded Asia Cup where Bangladesh lost the final to India. Having missed out in the qualifiers against Netherlands and Ireland, the hard-hitting left-hander would be looking to make a statement in today's crunch game against Oman.
Amir Ali (OMA): The marketing manager at an Indian restaurant in Muscat surprised everyone after making a debut at the age of 37 years. However, his blistering 17-ball 32 against Ireland made him an overnight star in his team's historic World T20 win. His crucial knock gave his side the taste of an upset win over the kings of Associate cricket. Oman will once again require Ali's batting prowess to help them secure the historic Super 10 berth.
Did you know
- This is the first time Bangladesh and Oman are playing against each other in an international match. This is also Oman's first ever international match against a Test-playing nation.
- 56 runs scored by Oman in their last 5 overs against Ireland is the most by an associate while chasing in WT20s.
- Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan require 11 and 21 runs respectively to become the first players from Bangladesh to reach 1,000 runs in T20Is.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Abu Hider, Arafat Sunny, Mohammad Mithun, Nurul Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed, Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Al-Amin Hossain
Oman: Sultan Ahmed (c), Amir Ali, Jatinder Singh, Ajay Lalcheta, Mohammad Nadeem, Rajeshkumar Ranpura, Vaibhav Wategaonkar, Zeeshan Maqsood, Aamir Kaleem, Munis Ansari, Khawar Ali, Mehran Khan, Arun Poulose, Sufyan Mehmood, Yousuf Mahmood, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Adnan Ilyas, Aaqib Sulehri, Bilal Khan