Oman secures promotion in win over USA; Kenya deny Singapore’s thrilling charge | Cricket

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© Peter Della Penna

USA v Oman

A century from Aqib Ilyas steered Oman through a tense chase before the tail took Oman past USA with three balls to spare, the win securing promotion to WCL Division Two in Namibia next April.

Coming into the match, USA had won all three matches after being sent in while Oman had won every match chasing. When Oman sent USA in, only one trend would remain intact by the end of the day but Kaleemullah vindicated the decision to bowl first with a sensational opening spell that knocked over USA’s top three.

The 6’5″ quick troubled USA with his height from his very first over as a rash charge from Jaskaran Malhotra resulted in the first edge behind. Monank Patel played out two consecutive maidens in the sixth and eighth to Kaleemullah before chasing after a wide ball to edge him behind in the 10th before Steven Taylor edged a full ball behind to start the 12th leaving USA reeling at 29 for 3.

USA’s scoring rate did not get past three per over again until the 40th over as Timil Patel transitioned into block mode to stretch out the innings. At one point he was on 14 off 66 balls, having played out 20 straight dots during a scoreless stretch beginning in the 24th over that didn’t end until the 33rd.

It took the arrival of former Pakistan Under-19 allrounder Jannisar Khan in the 29th over to rouse Timil back into scoring mode. The pair added 79 across 15 overs as Timil ended on 54 off 104 balls while Jannisar’s 53 took just 55 balls as he expertly manipulated the field against Oman’s spinners with a series of sweeps and reverse sweeps among his seven boundaries as USA eventually ended on 213.

Oman’s bench though was confident at the toss of chasing anything under 230 and so it proved thanks to the brilliance of Aqib. Having taken Man of the Match honors when the two sides clashed at the last WCL Division Three in Uganda with a fiery fifty, Aqib was once again the difference with the bat for Oman.

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Coming to the crease in the seventh over after the fall of Twinkal Bhandari, Aqib torched USA with his back foot game, routinely using the depth of the crease to anything short against the spinners in particular to flick paddles and pulls behind square.

Jatinder Singh gave him great support with his 42 during a 94-run stand. But USA’s overly defensive field settings cost them badly as leading strike bowler Timil Patel induced edges through vacant slip to both batsmen, including Aqib on 34. When Aqib fell to Ali Khan, Oman needed 13 off 16 balls and then 9 off 12 with two overs left.

But USA’s fielding let them down badly in the final moments as Ali’s relay from deep square leg to Malhotra for a simple runout was fluffed while Monank Patel dropped a chance at midwicket off Hayden Walsh’s bowling and an extra run was taken off each missed chance. Instead of eight runs to get with two wickets in hand, it meant Oman entered the last over needing six runs with four wickets remaining. Nestor Dhamba’s sliced drive over backward point brought it down to two off five before two more singles clinched Oman’s place in Namibia next year.

Singapore v Kenya

A high-scoring thriller on the adjacent oval went down to the wire before Singapore’s tail could wag no more in a 12-run win for Kenya. But Singapore’s fearless pursuit of the target of 325 has kept them in with a serious shot at promotion heading into the final day of the tournament despite a 2-2 record.

Kenya chose to bat first on a flat deck as Narendra Patel raced to a half-century inside of nine overs to take Kenya to 80 for 1. Legspinner Anantha Krishna eventually claimed him in the 15th for 68 and then struck again trapping Irfan Karim leg before in his next over to rein back Kenya’s scoring rate. Janak Prakash made the next breakthrough taking a return catch in the 29th over to dismiss Dhiren Gondaria for 42.

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It brought Nelson Odhiambo to the crease and the eventual Man of the Match picked up the scoring rate once again with 80 off 58 balls. Singapore paid for a blown runout chance early in his innings after a mixup with Rakep Patel, who made 52 off 70 balls.

With Oman in control against USA next door for much of the match, Singapore could not afford a lopsided loss with the net run rate tiebreaker still very much in play. Instead of just mitigating the damage, they very nearly pulled off a dramatic victory.

Aritra Dutta and Arjun Mutreja matched Kenya’s hot Powerplay almost stride for stride with a 25 and 36 respectively both at better than a run a ball. Kenya continued attacking for wickets with most fielders packed into the ring and the lack of boundary protection was exposed badly in a 100-run stand by Rezza Gaznavi and Anish Paraam. When it ended with Gaznavi’s wicket for 48, Singapore had a very manageable target of 150 off the final 22 overs.

Paraam finally fell for 85 with just over 12.2 overs to go but sharp bursts from Manpreet Singh and Janak Prakash kept Singapore in the hunt and with two overs to go, the target was down to 20. But Prakash fell on the first ball of the 49th for 32. Amjad Mahboob turned down singles trying to prevent last man Aahan Achar from having to do any of the heavy lifting and it almost worked as he took another seven runs before he was bowled trying to slog Lucas Oluoch three balls into the final over.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna


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