ANI Photo | World Cup Qualifier: Oman stuns Ireland to clinch two points in Group B

Oman stunned Ireland to kick off their campaign in Group B on a victorious note in the World Cup Qualifier at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Monday.
Oman chased their target down in style, with half-centuries from Kashyap Prajapati, Aqib Ilyas and Zeeshan Maqsood breaking Ireland’s hope of clinching victory.
They managed to chase down the target with 11 balls to spare as Mohammad Nadeem (46*), Ayaan Khan (21) and Shoaib Khan (19*) finished it off comfortably.
After enjoying a flurry of lower-order runs, Ireland kept the momentum which they gained in the final overs going as Mark Adair sent opener Jatinder Singh back to the pavilion for one run.
But a partnership of 94 between Ilyas and Prajapati laid the foundation of success for Oman.
In their search for victory, they suffered another blow as Ilyas departed for a 49-ball 52 to Dockrell.
Prajapati and Oman skipper Maqsood kept the flow of runs intact. They added 62 runs for the third wicket before the opener finally lost his wicket to Josh Little for a score of 72.
Little struck again to remove Maqsood for 59, but it was too late to turn things around. Ayaan Khan’s 21 was ended by Adair’s caught and bowled, but Mohammad Nadeem’s 46* took Oman closer to victory.
The winning runs came at the start of the second last over, with Shoaib Khan crunching a four to mark the first upset of the WC Qualifier.
Earlier while Batting first, Andy McBrine and Paul Stirling led the charge against the Oman bowlers to clear their intentions and set the tone of the game quite early.
The openers struck a boundary each in the second over that set the flow of runs for Ireland and they continued to do so as they found boundaries with ease for the majority of the powerplay.
It looked as if the match was being set for a big opening partnership as the Ireland opener completed a 50-run stand. But Oman’s short-ball strategy initiated their downfall. Stirling lost his wicket out in the deep to a pull shot while McBrine ended up mistiming his attempt to clear the boundary, his shot landed straight into the hands of the mid-off fielder.
The consecutive wickets halted Ireland’s momentum and put the brakes on their scoring, eventually leading to the wicket of captain Andy Balbirnie whose drive only managed the outside edge into the safe hands of Naseem Khushi.
Harry Tector, the ICC Men’s Player of the Month for May 2023, showed his class with two perfect drives.
Lorcan Tucker joined the party as the pair added quick runs in the middle overs to make up for the early loss of wickets. Tucker smashed Ayaan Khan for consecutive boundaries. However, it was the left-arm spinner who had the last laugh as he dismissed the wicketkeeper-batter for a score of 26.
With Oman using left-arm spin to keep Ireland quiet, Dockrell decided to ruin their plans with two boundaries off Ayaan Khan, taking Ireland’s score to 125/4 in 25 overs.
Tector fell after his fifty, but Dockrell took the innings deep. Gareth Delany (20 off 14), Mark Adair (15 off 11) and Graham Hume (15* off 12) all scored quick runs as Dockrell carried on at the other end.
The 30-year-old batter finished with an unbeaten 91* to help Ireland post a competitive total of 281/7.
Bried Scores: Ireland 281/7 (Dockrell 91(89)*, Harry Tector 52(82) and Bilal Khan 2/64) vs Oman 285-5 (Kashyap Prajapati 72(74), Zeeshan Maqsood 59(67) and Joshua Little 2/47). (ANI)

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