Oman 89 for 3 (Aqib 56*) beat Hong Kong 87 (Aizaz 19, Bilal 3-18) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
'Our attitude made the difference' - Duleep Mendis
Oman coach Duleep Mendis and captain Sultan Ahmed talk after their clinical seven-wicket victory against Hong Kong in Desert T20 Challenge
A day after their bid for a victory was thwarted by Netherlands' Roelof van der Merwe, Oman thumped Hong Kong in emphatic style, bowling them out for 87 and chasing the target down in 11 overs. Having put Hong Kong in to bat, Oman had them four-down inside the Powerplay and eventually bowled them out in 18.3 overs. A win over Scotland in their final Group B match will virtually guarantee Oman a place in the semi-finals thanks to a dramatic boost to their net run rate during today's speedy victory.
Left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed struck off the third ball of Hong Kong's defence but Oman were untroubled thereon as Zeeshan Maqsood and Aqib Ilyas reached 41 for 2 after six overs. Forced to stay aggressive with their field settings in a desperate bid to bowl Oman out, Hong Kong left the boundary exposed with only one man at deep square leg guarding the rope. Hong Kong could only prise out one more wicket though as Aqib peppered the rope, finishing with ten fours and a six in his unbeaten 56 off 30 balls.
One day after a double-strike in his opening over against Netherlands, left-arm fast bowler Bilal Khan continued his impressive showing with the new ball. Bilal benefited in the first over as Nizakat Khan exposed his stumps and was bowled around his legs. Babar Hayat, however, was set up brilliantly by the bowler. After offering some width that Hayat seized on for a boundary, Bilal bowled a full inswinger next ball that the batsman was late on for an easy lbw decision.
Bilal found late movement to nab Anshuman Rath in the fifth over, with a delivery that jagged away as Rath attempted to run the ball to third man, only to give an edge behind. When Aizaz Khan became the fourth Hong Kong wicket in the Powerplay, Oman gained a stranglehold that they never relinquished.
Seamer Kaleemullah took some punishment in the second over from Aizaz, being hit for three boundaries through cover, midwicket and down the track. In the bowler's next over, Rath made it a fourth, with a drive over mid-off as Kaleemullah was punished for bowling too full. Brought back in the 12th over, with Hong Kong six-down, he found a better length by dragging it back slightly. Ehsan Khan was pinned in front with the second ball of his new spell and, after a cracker first up, Ehsan Nawaz, found the edge on a delivery teasing the fourth-stump line in the double-wicket maiden over. The wickets effectively wiped out Hong Kong's chances of mounting a fightback.
Aqib's off-side show
Coming in to bat after the fall of Arun Poulose in the first over, Aqib showed a liking for spin-bowling as he carted Nadeem for two fours and six over long-on in the fifth over. He provided even better entertainment through the off side, however, in the 11th over against offspinner Ehsan Khan.
A small target and a packed infield gave Aqib a license to thrill. With 17 left to win at the start of the second half of the innings, he lofted Ehsan over mid-off and then backed it up with a pair of sumptuous drives through point and cover for a trifecta of fours. He was back on strike for the final ball of the over and sealed victory with another delightful drive through wide mid-off. Batting has been Oman's main weakness, as they have struggled to find someone to provide consistent support to Maqsood. They may have found the solution in Aqib.