Hosts take on Scotland in their final Group B First Round match today
Muscat – History beckons hosts Oman on Thursday at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground as Duleep Mendis’ men are a win away from writing a glorious chapter in the annals of the sultanate’s sports.
With calculators ready to come out to determine the net run rate (NRR) as three teams – Bangladesh, Scotland and Oman – all in fray, the formula is clear cut for the hosts – get an outright win against Scotland on Thursday in their concluding ICC Men’s T20 World Cup First Round Group B match – to make history by advancing to the Super 12 stage for the first time.
With two Super 12 spots up in grabs from the group, Thursday’s matches provide different scenarios for the three teams with the fourth side, Papua New Guinea (PNG), out of the race.
Fancied Bangladesh, which bounced back after their opening day defeat at the hands of Scotland, with a win over Oman on Tuesday, take on PNG in the first match of the day.
And in the second match in the evening, Oman meet current table toppers Scotland.
A win for Oman will take them to four points, and having won the opener against PNG by ten wickets, their NRR is enough for a berth in the Super 12.
A win for Scotland will take them to the next round but Oman will know their fate on the result of the game between Bangladesh and PNG.
A win for Bangladesh, which is a likely result, will see them advance, but a PNG upset will get the NRR in play for Oman and Bangladesh.
On Tuesday, Oman supporters turned up in good numbers for the match against Bangladesh along with the Bangla fans. With Thursday’s match against Scotland a virtual knockout match, another encouraging crowd is expected.
Another incentive for the teams who advance to Super 12 will be a direct entry into next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
The hosts will hope that their top-order fires with Jatinder Singh in good knick after scores of unbeaten 73 against PNG and 40 against Bangladesh.
The pace bowling attack, led by Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah, have been effective during the powerplay so far and their performances may hold the key against Scotland.
In the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Oman’s allrounder Aqib Ilyas hinted that the team may opt for a extra bowler, either a fast bowler or a leg-spinner, depending on the surface.
If a pacer is included then in all probability Fayyaz Butt, who took a stunning return catch against Bangladesh may get the nod.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Oman coach Duleep Mendis rued the missed catches against Bangladesh and admitted that ‘cost us the match’.
“On Thursday, the goal is clear – beat Scotland and we go through. We have a chance and I am hopeful,” said the former Sri Lankan great.
Ilyas also echoed his coach’s words.
“Fielding is the key. Against Bangladesh, we dropped Mohammad Naim when he was in the 20s. He went on to make 70, that made a big difference. We can’t afford to drop catches. Also as batters, we shouldn’t be leaving it to the other players. The small things matter,” he said.
Earlier, Scotland head coach Shane Burger said, “It is huge game for Scottish cricket. If there’s any team that understands this is a must-win game, it’s probably Scotland. We often go into competitions knowing every game is a must-win.”
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (capt), George Munsey, Matthew Cross (wk), Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Mathew Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Josh Davey, Alasdair Evans, Brad Wheal.
Oman: Aqib Ilyas, Jatinder Singh, Khawar Ali, Zeeshan Maqsood (capt), Kashyap Prajapati, Naseem Khushi (wk), Mohammad Nadeem, Ayaan Khan, Fayyaz Butt, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan.