Oman pulled off a stunning upset against a side that is known for upsetting stronger sides in global tournaments, shocking Ireland with a two-wicket win with two balls to spare in Dharamsala. Chasing 155 on a slow track, Oman’s fortunes swung from one extreme to the other: the openers gave them a strong start but the middle order wobbled, before an Aamer Ali cameo turned things around again. They eventually sealed a historic win by taking 15 runs off a frenetic final over from Max Sorensen, who lost his lengths during a spate of full tosses that left Ireland in anguish.
Oman needed 14 off the last over with three wickets in hand. The first ball from Sorenson was a shoulder-high full toss and Aamer managed to steer it to the fine-leg boundary. Aamer could only take a bye off the free-hit – a yorker that hit the stumps. With eight needed off five, another full toss followed – a wide one – and Ajay Lalcheta managed to edge a swipe past the keeper to the third-man boundary. Another single took it to three needed off three. The game was almost Oman’s now, but Sorensen had Aamer nicking to the wicketkeeper. And then, with three needed off two balls, Sorensen bowled another high full toss that beat both batsman and keeper and raced to the boundary to set off joyous celebrations in the Oman camp.
At 95 for 5, with Oman needing 61 off 30 balls, those celebrations seemed improbable before Aamer cut loose. He dispatched Sorensen over the midwicket boundary and used clever shots against the experienced Tim Murtagh in the 17th over to bring the equation down to 23 from 18. Murtagh helped Oman’s cause with a no-ball and two wides in the over and Aamer then finished it with three consecutive fours to tilt the balance. Kevin O’Brien kept Ireland alive by conceding only five runs in the 18th, and Oman lost two more wickets in the 19th before that dramatic finish.
Oman’s openers Zeeshan Maqsood and Khawar Ali had put on a stand of 69 in 8.3 overs that kept the required run rate under eight per over. Maqsood peppered the leg side with one cracking shot after another and cashed in on loose deliveries with several swipes. He spanked three fours off Boyd Rankin in the third over and Khawar also switched gears after having faced several dot balls initially. Khawar attacked O’Brien with a consecutive four and six before he was bowled and O’Brien jolted Oman further with the wicket of Maqsood in his next over.
William Porterfield then switched between Paul Stirling, Sorensen and Andy McBrine who stifled Oman with 23 boundary-less balls. McBrine made things worse for Oman by collecting two wickets in four balls in the 14th over, reducing them to 90 for 5, but that brought out Aamer, who proved too dangerous for Ireland.
Having opted to bat though dew was going to come into play later on, Ireland’s first few overs were filled with crunchy drives from Stirling after left-arm spinner Ajay Lalcheta started with a maiden. Stirling attacked Bilal Khan and took the score to 46 for 0 in the Powerplay as his partner Porterfield raced from 4 off 11 to 14 off 17 before the field could be spread out.
Ireland were left stunned when Maqsood took a spectacular one-handed catch at extra cover, intercepting a Stirling drive and ending his innings. Ireland needed momentum to build on but could not find any because Oman brought on one spinner after another. No. 3 Gary Wilson started accelerating with two fours in the 10th over but when Porterfield tried to do the same by stepping out, he was stumped off Khawar for 29. The Ireland batsmen picked up a boundary almost every over after that but the sluggish pitch made it tough to find them more often, even off full tosses.
Wilson worked hard for an innings of 38 that ended when his stumps were splattered by Munis Ansari, who also dismissed Niall O’Brien in the same over. Ansari had leaked 15 in his first over but he bowled the remaining three to not allow Ireland to get too far. He bowled yorkers, slower ones, and targeted the stumps to concede 22 runs off his last 18 balls. It was only in his last over, which leaked 12, that McBrine collected two fours to help Ireland past 150.