Muscat – Aqib Ilyas (63) smashed a 24-ball half-century as Oman overpowered Singapore by 22 runs for their second successive victory in a Group A match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier Final in Kirtipur, Nepal, on Tuesday.
Batting first, Oman set up a formidable score of 174/6 and then restricted their rivals to 152/8.
The win also secured the side a place in the semi-finals following hosts Nepal’s six-wicket win over Malaysia in the same group later on Tuesday. Both Singapore and Malaysia have yet to open their account and with a game left, Oman and Nepal advanced to the last-four stage with four points each.
The concluding Group A league match between Oman and Nepal on Thursday will decide the group toppers.
The winners of the semi-finals on Friday will secure a direct spot in the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, co-hosted by the USA and the West Indies.
Oman currently lead Group A on better net run-rate (NRR) with 1.350 while Nepal have 1.322.
The Group A toppers will play the Group B second-placed team while the Group B leaders will meet Group A runners-up.
After two rounds, UAE lead the Pool B with four points after their five-wicket win over Kuwait on Tuesday while Bahrain and Hong Kong have two points each. Kuwait have yet to open their account.
On Tuesday, at the Tribhuvan University ground against Singapore, Oman were put to bat first and after Kashyap Prajapati and Pratik Athavale gave the team a good start, Prajapati departed in the fifth over with the score at 28. Ilyas along with Athavale then send the Singapore bowlers on a leather chase as they shared 50-run stand before Athavale was dismissed for a 32-ball 42.
Opening match hero and Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood and his deputy, Ilyas, then took on themselves to set a formidable target.
Ilyas was in explosive form, blasting 50 in just 24 balls, and along with Maqsood shared a 69-run partnership before the latter departed for 17-ball 26, a knock that was studded with three boundaries and a maximum.
Ilyas continued to exhibit his vast range of strokes but in a bid to accelerate perished for a 35-ball 63. His innings had equal number of hits to the ropes and over it. Oman managed to score 174/6. Janak Prakash, Ramesh Kalimuthu and Anish Paraam took two wickets each.
Spinners Shakeel Ahmed and Maqsood stalled the Singapore chase as they dismissed the openers to leave them 42/2 in seven overs.
Anish Paraam (26) and Surendran Chandramohan (41) provided a semblance of fight but Mohammed Nadeem broke the growing partnership when Paraam was caught by Ayaan Khan to leave Singapore 77/3 in the 12th over.
Ilyas then got the crucial wicket of the dangerous-looking Chandramohan as the Singapore batter was hit wicket.
Manpreet Singh’s valiant 31 off 20 wasn’t enough as seamers Fayyaz Butt and Bilal Khan ran through the lower order to restrict them to 152/8.
All the six Oman bowlers were among the wickets and the two impressive wins will give them much needed confidence against Nepal in the concluding Pool A game on Thursday.