By Shahzad Raza
(Photo credits: Oman Cricket)
MUSCAT: Qatar sprang the first real surprise in the ACC Western Region T20 Tournament, catching Oman short and napping in broad daylight in a 34-run win to seal a spot in the semifinal with two back-to-back victories on the OC Turf 2 in Amerat on Monday.
In the other morning game of the day, Saudi Arabia made its presence felt with an emphatic 9-wicket victory against Iran, the whipping boys of the tournament, here at OC Turf 1.
Chasing Qatar’s 175, Oman looked in full control of the game when it was cruising at 77 for 1 in the 9th over. Amir Kaleem’s departure for a forceful 32 off 18 opened the floodgates as Oman lost 9 wickets for only 64 runs in an inexplicable hurry to hit the ball in the air and perish, when playing normal cricket would have been the safer route to victory.
The game started to turn in Qatar’s favour when captain Iqbal Hussain Chaudhry brought Muhammed Nadeem on to break the partnership — which he instantly did by not only dismissing Kaleem, but sending captain Zeeshan Maqsood and Suraj Kumar back to the pavilion in no time. Leg-spinner Tamoor Sajjad took the key wicket of opener Khawar Ali and then had Khurram Khan caught in front to put Qatar in the driver’s seat.
There was no looking back as Oman failed to bounce back from a dramatic collapse and could not even play the full twenty overs, getting bowled out for 141 in 19.1 overs. Kaleemullah’s two sixes in the final overs were the only glimmers of hope amidst the ruins — but was clean bowled by Muhammed Awais Malik who, along with Nadeem, picked up three wickets each to hasten Oman’s fall.
Oman now must beat Maldives on Tuesday to confirm its passage to the semifinals.
Qatar captain Iqbal Hussain Chaudhry who held three lovely catches yesterday, was absolutely delighted after his team’s win over fancied Oman.
“We came here to prove Qatar is ready to play and compete at a higher level and I am really glad that we were able to secure an absolutely fantastic victory against such an accomplished side like Oman which has had so much international exposure. This was the game we wanted to win and hats off to our boys who rose to the occasion and performed so creditably well,” he added.
Qatar’s Kamran Khan won his second player of the match award in two days, for scoring an authoritative 54 off 40, including three huge hits over the fence. He was involved in an 82-run opening partnership with Zaheeruddeen Ibrahim who struck a stylish 39. Khawar Ali added two more wickets to his four against Bahrain on Sunday.
Earlier, Iran had another forgettable outing against a spirited Saudi attack, limping its way to a lame 72 for 9. Five of the batsmen for Iran failed to open their account and, even to reach this total, Iran had to thank Saudi for conceding 16 extras including 15 wides. Faisal Khan, Adil Butt, and Imran Yousaf all bowled exceptionally well, taking two wickets each.
Smarting from an opening day loss to Kuwait, Saudi came out all guns blazing, hammering their way to 73 in only 5.3 overs. Opener Abdul Waheed was particularly ruthless as he whacked an unbeaten 41 off only 16 balls. Following his superb spell, Faisal Khan looked equally impressive with the bats too, scoring a breezy 24 off 13, including two big sixes.
Saudi takes on UAE in an all-important match on Tuesday, whereas Oman face Maldives to complete the two morning games.
Brief scores: Qatar 175 for 5 in 20 overs (Kamran Khan 54 – 5×4, 3×6, Zaheeruddeen Ibrahim 39 – 5×4, 1×6, Imal Malindu 26 – 4×4, Tamoor Sajjad 22 not out – 2×4, 1×6. Khawar Ali 2-26) defeated Oman 141 all out in 19.1 overs (Khawar Ali 38 – 5×4, Amir Kaleem 32 – 4×4, 1×6. Muhammed Awais Malik 3-28, Muhammed Nadeem 3-34, Tamoor Sajjad 2-21) by 34 runs. Player of the Match: Kamran Khan (Qatar).
Brief scores: Iran 72 for 9 in 20 overs (Mohammad Yousef 20 – 3×4, Ali Mohammadipour 18 – 2×4. Faisal Khan 2-14, Adil Butt 2-15, Imran Yousaf 2-21) lost to Saudi Arabia 73 for 1 in 5.3 overs (Abdul Waheed 41 not out – 8×4, 1×6, Faisal Khan 24 – 2×4, 2×6) by 9 wickets. Player of the Match: Abdul Waheed (Saudi Arabia).