Story: Shahzad Raza
MUSCAT: Head and shoulders above the opposition, Oman ended the Tri-Series in Nepal unbeaten with a 92-run drubbing of the USA thanks to another dominant partnership between captain Zeeshan Maqsood and vice-captain Aqib Ilyas, who were involved in an unbeaten 216-run partnership for the third wicket in their fourth and final One-Day International match in Kirtipur on Tuesday.
The Sultanate’s Red Brigade ended the series, which was part of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2, with four wins out of four and now heads the seven-nation competition table with 16 points from 10 games, followed by USA’s 12 from 11 and Scotland’s 9 from 8.
Commenting on Oman’s fourth successive win, Pankaj Khimji, Chef-de-Mission and the team’s mentor, said Oman needed points to boost its chances of winning the World Cup qualification race and it succeeded in its objective.
“Yet another fantastic win; just what the doctor ordered. Captain Zeeshan and vice-captain Aqib set shining examples of leadership from the front not only today but through the entire series. Outstanding performance by the team,” he added.
Aqib was not only declared player of the match but won player of the series award too for being the leading scorer and wicket-taker as well.
It takes two to tango they say — and both Aqib (105 off 123) and Zeeshan (109 off 109) danced their way to setting an imposing total of 276 for 6 with an array of strokes all around the park. They were again the reason the USA felt helpless coming close to chasing the target, getting dismissed for 184 in the 40th over, with Aqib claiming 3 for 14, while Zeeshan took 2 for 33. Oman spearhead Bilal Khan impressed once again by taking 3 for 24. Nisarg Patel (52) and Aaron Jones (47 not out) were the USA’s main scorers.
The inseparable duo scored 420 runs between them, out of the 936 runs Oman scored in the triangular series, while also taking 17 wickets of the total 38 claimed by Oman bowlers.
In the four matches Oman played — two each against Nepal and the USA, Aqib emerged as the highest run-scorer with 302 runs and highest wicket-taker for Oman with 10 wickets conceding only 78 runs. Zeeshan contributed a total of 208 runs with the bat while claiming 7 wickets for 137 runs. All-rounder Muhammed Nadeem had the next best bowling figures with 8 wickets, followed by pace ace Bilal Khan who bagged 7. Nadeem made some handy contributions with the bat too, his 69 not out against Nepal in the opening game was particularly of immense value to the team.
Brief scores: Oman 276 for 6 in 50 overs (Zeeshan Maqsood 109 – 10×4, 4×6, Aqib Ilyas 105 – 11×4, 1×6. Saurabh Netravalkar 3-37, Rusty Theron 3-60) defeated USA 184 all out in 39.1 overs (Nisarg Patel 52 – 4×4, 4×6, Aaron Jones 47 not out – 3×4, Ian Holland 28 – 4×4, Xavier Marshal 23 – 2×4, 1×6. Aqib Ilyas 3-14, Bilal Khan 3-24, Zeeshan Maqsood 2-33, Muhammed Nadeem 1-34) by 92 runs.