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Mehran magic in vain as Oman go down to Namibia in World Cup thriller

3 Jun 2024

Bridgetown, Barbados – There was drama till the end, and few would have imagined a match script swinging like a pendulum from one side to another. From the depths of despair to a near-delight for Oman, the opening Group B game between Oman and Namibia in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown will go down as one of the early thrillers of the 2024 edition.

In a match where both the teams scored a paltry 109 each to tie and force a Super Over, Namibia rode an all-round performance by their star David Wiese to scrape home but not before Oman produced one of the memorable fightbacks in the T20 World Cup.

It has been 12 years since the T20 World Cup witnessed a Super Over, the last was when West Indies beat New Zealand in Pallekele, Sri Lanka, on October 1, 2012.

The fighting spirit from Duleep Mendis-coached Oman will certainly be a big positive the team will take along as they continue their campaign in the World Cup. Not only did they apply brakes on the Namibian batters in the chase, a sensational final over from Mehran Khan saw Oman tie with Namibia as the latter were restricted to 109/6. Needing five of the final over, Mehran conceded just four to take the match into a Super Over.

However, Namibia’s star all-rounder David Wiese dug in all his experiences as a leading franchise player, to power his team to victory in the one-over eliminator and earn two points.

Wiese and skipper Gerhard Erasmus hammered Oman’s main pace spearhead Bilal Khan in the Super Over for three boundaries and a maximum as they posted 21 runs. Wiese followed up his batting heroics with a tidy spell to restrict Oman to just ten runs and claimed the wicket of Naseem Khushi.

The Super Over began with a classic cover drive by Wiese off the first ball from Bilal and he capitalised on a full toss off the next for a maximum over long on to set the tone. Erasmus slammed two successive boundaries to lead his team to 21.

Wiese’s bowling spell ensured that Oman couldn’t repeat the comeback they had orchestrated few minutes back on the magical spell from Mehran Khan, who defended five runs off the last over.

Earlier, Oman put up an under-par score but Aqib Ilyas, leading Oman for the first time in the T20World Cup, marshalled his skillful bowlers successfully to put a squeeze on Namibian batters. Had it not been for the butterfingers of Oman fielders, the Men in Red could have even pulled off a heist as Namibia’s top-scorer, Jan Frylinck, who scored 45, was dropped twice while Nikolaas Davin, the opening batter, also was dropped before he departed for 24.

Namibia found the chase tricky and brought it down to 18 off the last three overs with Frylinck at the crease till the last over.

Mehran, the 37-year-old experienced medium pacer, who made a comeback to the national team earlier this year after 2019, came up with an inspiring spell to bring back Oman from the jaws of defeat. He started the 18th over with four byes, but then had JJ Smit caught at long-on before bowling three dots on the trot to the dangerous Wiese.

A six from Wiese in the 19th over, helped bring the equation to five off the final over.

Mehran was given the responsibility to defend. He bowled Frylinck off the very first ball and followed it up with a dot ball. On his third delivery, he trapped Zane Green leg before, who attempted an ambitious leg-side scoop. New batter Malan Kruger took a single and got Wiese on strike with four needed off two. Wiese was able to get only two off the penultimate ball and Mehran’s final ball was missed by Wiese but wicketkeeper Naseem Khushi, who was standing up the stumps, fumbled as the Namibia pair scrambled for a single bye. Despite Khushi’s attempt to hit the stumps with a reverse throw it missed the stumps. Had the throw hit the wickets, Oman may have recorded one of the most thrilling wins. Mehran finished with figures of 3-1-7-3.

Trumpelmann’s three-wicket spell in his first two overs set the tone of Namibia’s dominance in the game. Kashyap Prajapati was leg before off the first ball and Ilyas returned to pavilion off the next ball. The left-arm pacer then sent back Naseem Khushi in his second over to have Oman reeling at 10/3. Former captain Zeeshan Maqsood and Khalid Kail took the team past the powerplay at 36/3 with a counterattack but Maqsood departed in the next over after powerplay, as left-arm spinner Bernard Scholz trapped him lbw in the seventh over.

With the spinners Scholz and Erasmus operating in tandem, Oman batters Kail and Ayaan Khan failed to break the shackles as they managed just five runs from the two overs after the powerplay. Ayaan Khan then gave charge to Scholz, hitting him for Oman’s first six of the innings before Kail started the tenth over with a four off Erasmus.

Namibia bowlers’ tight spell meant Oman failed to hit any boundaries for 44 deliveries and with pressure mounting Oman lost two more wickets.

Ayaan was caught at long-off off Erasmus and he then trapped Mohammad Nadeem in front in his next over. Mehran and Shakeel Ahmed hit a couple of boundaries to take Oman past 100-mark before Wiese finished the final over with two wickets as they were bowled out in 19.4 overs

Bilal Khan gave Oman a dream start with a breakthrough when Michael van Lingen got an inside edge onto the stumps off an outswinger off the second ball of the opening over. Namibia were sedate in powerplay as they crawled to 32/1.

Ilyas, along with Shakeel Ahmed, Maqsood, Kaleemullah, Ayaan and Mehran, gave nothing to Namibian batters with Ilyas beginning his spell with a maiden. Namibia could have been two down in the eighth over but for Mehran dropping a catch from Davin off his own bowling in the eighth over.

Frylinck and Erasmus tried to steady Namibia, although Oman had a chance to break the partnership, only for another caught-and-bowled chance to go down when Ilyas gave Frylinck a life in the 11th over when he was on 21. Two overs later, Frylinck was given another reprieve, on 24, when he was dropped at deep midwicket by Kail.

With the match decided in a Super Over, Oman are left to rue the missed chances that went abegging.

Namibia 109 for 6 (Frylinck 45, Mehran 3-7, Ilyas 1-17) beat Oman 109 (Kail 34, Trumpelmann 4-21, Wiese 3-28) via Super Over. Super Over Namibia 21 beat Oman 10.

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