T20 Review – Ireland v Oman

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There is always something wonderful when a new force emerges in any sport and Oman joined the ranks of Cup giant-killers when they beat Ireland by two wickets at the World T20 tournament on Wednesday.

The saying goes that time waits for no man, but there was little sign of pressure building on the Asian side’s minds, despite needing 14 from the final over of a captivating match.

If anything, it was Ireland who seemed scrambled in the climactic stages when they were being ripped apart by Amir Ali, a bespectacled fellow with his eye on the prize, whose rapid 32 transformed the proceedings and rightly earned him the man of the match award.

There were plenty of twists and turns throughout the contest where an under-par Ireland were pushed out of their comfort zone by Oman, who deserved every accolade going in their maiden appearance at this level.

The Irish have frequently toiled in the T20 format and their batting effort lacked momentum or creativity. Paul Stirling briefly threatened before being brilliantly caught by Zeeshan Maqsood, but it was a stuttering, unconvincing effort from the likes of William Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien as they edged to 154 for 5.

Their meandering exertions were soon put in perspective by a superb opening stand of 69 between Maqsood and Khawar Ali, who pummelled such stalwart performers as Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin with glorious abandon.

When the Omanis subsequently collapsed to 90 for 5, it seemed like normal service had resumed, but the emerging nation launched another spirited surge, boosted by a combination of some refulgent shots from Amir Ali and the profligacy of Murtagh, who was hit for 20 in an over which featured three wides.

At that point, Ireland stood on the cusp of ignominy, but Rankin, newly restored to his homeland’s service after a spell with England, bowled Jatinder Singh for 24 and the tide seemed to have turned yet again.

Still, though, the tussle swung one way and another. Oman only required three runs from the last three balls, but Ali perished for 32 from just 17 deliveries, allegedly caught behind – though he didn’t make contact with the ball – off Max Sorensen.

That over had served up a no-ball, a free hit, and an umpiring gaffe. So perhaps it was appropriate that Oman secured their triumph when the penultimate ball was missed by batsman and wicket-keeper and rushed away for four previous byes.

Over the piece, Oman were well worth their win and if anybody doubted their progress, this was a stunning way to announce themselves on the world stage.

It demonstrates that there is very little between all eight sides in this cut-throat competition. But whereas The Netherlands couldn’t get over the line against Bangladesh – who were indebted to Tamim Iqbal’s unbeaten 83 – and the same was true of Scotland on the opening day, these Omani players did the business when it really mattered.

The Irish have orchestrated plenty of shocks on the international stage during the last decade.

But this was the day they discovered what it feels like to be banjaxed!

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