Co-hosts Oman got celebrations under way at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 with a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in the opening match.
Zeeshan Maqsood’s men ticked all the boxes, with their bowling, catching and batting giving the home fans plenty to cheer about at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground on Sunday.
Maqsood himself took four wickets to help restrict the opposition to 129/9, before half-centuries for openers Jatinder Singh and Aaqib Ilyas eased them past the target in 13.4 overs.
Not much went PNG’s way after they found themselves 0/2 inside the first two overs, with captain Assad Vala’s fifty the only highlight for them on a difficult day.
Oman openers don’t break a sweat
The opening pair of Jatinder and Ilyas barely looked under pressure in the chase. They were solid rather than flashy during the Powerplay, with the first six coming only in the eighth over, off the bat of Ilyas.
Jatinder, who was strong with the reverse sweep all day, was the first to bring up his fifty, off 33 balls. Getting to face a free hit, he got to the landmark with a six over long-on and brought out his trademark celebration.
Ilyas, who had been caught off a no-ball, got to his half-century in 43 balls, before Jatinder sealed the game with a final six.
Disastrous start for PNG
Earlier, put in, PNG overcame a disastrous start where they were 0/2, thanks to a national record third-wicket stand of 81 off 60 balls between captain Vala and Charles Amini. Vala was the top scorer of the PNG innings, striking an entertaining 43-ball 56.
However, the middle order couldn’t capitalise, as Maqsood ran through the line-up with three wickets in his second over.
PNG lost both openers in the first two overs of the match with Oman's new-ball pair of Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah causing havoc. Bilal took the first wicket of the tournament when he got the ball to shape in to Tony Ura, who edged onto his stumps. The next over, Kaleemullah foxed Lega Siaka with his outswing, before a straighter one was chopped onto the stumps.
Amini and Vala, though, remained unperturbed and kept up the attack. Amini was the aggressor early on in the stand, getting going with a couple of boundaries.
Direct hit, the turning point
The partnership had guided the World Cup debutants to 70 at the halfway mark when a direct hit from Mohammad Nadeem broke the stand. Amini, who had set off for a single from the non-striker’s end, couldn’t make it back in time as Nadeem did a smart bit of work off his own bowling.
Vala, who needed medical attention following a collision with the bowler, brought up a fine fifty with a straight six. However, he fell looking to up the ante, as Jatinder ran in from long-on to take a good high catch.
The loss of Vala in the 15th over with the team score at 102 triggered a collapse. The middle and lower order could only add 27 more, even as the Oman bowlers were aided by excellent fielding.
Maqsood spun the momentum his team’s way, by sending back Norman Vanua, Sese Bau and Kiplin Doriga in the same over. Excellent work by Nadeem, who held his balance in the deep to take a high catch of Damien Ravu, gave the skipper his fourth wicket. He finished with 4/20.
Oman next take on Bangladesh on Tuesday, October 19, while PNG face Scotland in the first match the same day.