Oman produced the first real shock of this year's World T20, beating Ireland by two wickets in a thrilling qualifying match.
Ireland were the clear favourites as they opened their T20 World Cup 2016 campaign against new boys Oman, who are playing in their first major ICC global event. The favourites won the toss and elected to bat, putting on a competitive total of 154-5. However, they were shocked, with a few very expensive overs proving costly as the minnows won by two wickets.
The Irish make steady, but not deadly, progress
It all started so well for Oman, as Ajay Lalcheta bowled a maiden over to begin the match. Yet it did not take long for Ireland openers Paul Stirling and William Porterfield to find their touch as Bilal Khan was hit for 12 off the following over. Batting teams often look to expose the first six overs during the Powerplay to set themselves up for the rest of the innings and Ireland did just that as Stirling and Porterfield helped them to 46-0.
Despite a good start from the Irish, Oman were not ready to throw in the towel. Aamir Kaleem took the ball for the seventh over and made an impact with just his third delivery, as Zeeshan Maqsood took an outstanding one-handed catch at short extra cover to dismiss Stirling for 29.
Gary Wilson of Surrey came in at number three and was fortunate to survive an appeal for caught behind during the tenth over when he was on just eight. Replays suggested the ball brushed his gloves on the way through to the wicketkeeper. Meanwhile Porterfield was quietly going about his business, before some slick glove work from Sultan Ahmed dismissed him during the 12th over. The opener had survived a stumping appeal a few balls before, but this time Khawar Ali got his man for 29.
Niall O'Brien came to the crease and gradually helped Ireland through the gears alongside Wilson until the 16th over. The number four went for a big shot off Munis Ansari, only to top edge the ball to Mehran Khan. Ansari, who has a similar action to Lasith Malinga, was not finished there as he dismissed Wilson for 38 to take two overs in the over.
Andrew Poynter joined O'Brien as Ireland looked for a quick rebuild whilst accelerating to reach a decent score. The pair scored seven, nine and eight in the next three overs, before Ansari continued his demolition process in the last over, with a beauty to dismiss O'Brien for 14. Andy McBrine came to the crease and scores a timely 10 off three to take Ireland to 154-5. Ansari was the pick of the bowlers for Oman, finishing with 3-37, as the new boys walked off content with their performance to reduce Ireland to an average score.
Oman openers lay a foundation before the debutants survive a collapse
Zeeshan Maqsood and Khawar Ali opened the batting for Oman and showed no fear as they raced to 44-0 off the first six overs, with Maqsood leading the way on 29. The pair continued to flourish, making a partnership of 69 from 57 deliveries before Ireland took a much needed wicket. Ali was the unfortunate man as he chopped onto his stumps off Kevin O'Brien after an excellent 34 from just 25 balls.
Jatinder Singh came to the crease, but just two overs after finding the breakthrough, Kevin O'Brien was the main man again as he dismissed the dangerous Maqsood whose inside edge onto the stumps sent him back to the dugout on 38.
The Irish smelt blood and Oman suddenly collapsed from 78-2 to 90-5, as Adnan Ilyas chipped a Max Sorenson delivery to backward point. McBrine followed that wicket up when he took two wickets in the next over with the dismissals of Mehran Khan and Aamir Kaleem with a catch and LBW respectively.
With 65 runs required of 36 balls, Amir Ali joined Jatinder Singh in an attempt to win Oman's first global tournament game. The pair followed in the footsteps of the openers as they smashed 43 off the next three overs to give Oman a real opportunity with 22 from 18 required.
The 18th over brought just five runs as an incredible piece of fielding by Gary Wilson clawed away a potential six to save another five runs. With 18 runs required from the last two overs, Boyd Rankin came on and put Ireland straight back in the driving seat as he bowled Jatinder for 24, before Sultan was run out by Niall O'Brien for just one.
The result was Oman requiring 14 runs of Max Sorenson in the final over and the seamer gave them a great opportunity when his opening delivery was adjudged a no ball and hit for four by Amir Ali. As the match tilted on a knife's edge, Ali was caught behind by O'Brien for 32, before the wicketkeeper let the next delivery go through his legs to allow Oman an incredible victory by two wickets with a ball to spare.