Scotland 134 for 3 (Cross 47, MacLeod 35*) beat Oman 133 (Nawaz 23, Sharif 3-33) by seven wickets
'Scotland yet to hit peak' - Coetzer
Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer talks about his team's unbeaten run in the Desert T20 challenge and their chances in the semi-final against Ireland
Scotland remained undefeated at the Desert T20 Challenge after another composed chase of 134 with an over to spare and seven wickets in hand, over Oman on Thursday night. That meant Oman will have to come back to Dubai Sports City for Friday's first semi-final, less than 12 hours after the game against Scotland finished.
Scotland, meanwhile, can hit the snooze button before they take on a well-rested Ireland - the only one of the four semi-finalists to not play on Thursday - at 2:30 pm in the second semi-final. Finishing atop the group also meant Scotland were able to avoid Afghanistan in the semi-finals, a team they have failed to beat in six previous attempts in T20Is. The winners advance to the tournament final at 7:30 pm.
Oman stuttered through their innings in fits and starts with six players reaching double-figures, but none doing better than Khurram Nawaz with 23. Overall, they were not under too much pressure to fall short of the semi-finals regardless of a loss due to their net run rate advantage of +1.611 over Hong Kong heading into the match. Winning the toss and electing to field virtually assured them a place in the semi-final as long as Scotland did not chase any target inside of 11.4 overs.
Oman missed a few chances early but once Scotland's opening stand was broken in the seventh over, the chase slowed and Oman stretched Scotland until the 19th over. Matthew Cross top-scored with 47 off 40 balls before being caught on the circle an over before victory was secured.
Less than a year ago at the World T20 in India, then 19-year-old Mark Watt was touted to be Scotland's lead spinner ahead of Con de Lange, and was also given the new ball as well when the tournament got underway against Afghanistan. Since then de Lange has usurped the lead spinner's role but Watt has worked on developing more consistency and has demonstrated his ability.
Taking the new ball in every outing, he has been economical without being incisive. On Thursday, he was finally rewarded against Oman with the scalps of both openers. A quicker ball pinned Arun Poulose on the pads while he played down the wrong line for a duck in the third over. After being hit hard bowling around the wicket by Maqsood, he switched to bowl over the wicket and produced a skied leading edge that was taken by Calum MacLeod at long-on in the fifth over. He finished with 2 for 23.
Berrington runout show continues
In Scotland's dramatic seven-run win over Netherlands in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday night, Richie Berrington clinched victory by charging in from long-on with a pair of picture perfect relays to Safyaan Sharif over the bowler's stumps off back-to-back deliverie for the last two wickets.
Oman were decently positioned at 51 for 2 in 10 over, but Con de Lange struck with a ball sliding in to beat Khawar Ali's cut on the first ball of the following over. Aqib Ilyas, who made a half-century against Hong Kong in Oman's previous match, was looking solid at the other end on 19 but new batsman Khurram Nawaz was eager to get off strike straight away. He tried to run his first delivery behind point for a sharp single but Berrington swooped in and flicked from eight yards to wicketkeeper Cross as Ilyas' dive wasn't in time.
It was another momentum game-changing moment in the field for Berrington, but it could be the last one he provides at the tournament though as he stayed down on the ground clutching his right hamstring afterward. After getting treatment, he was forced to limp off the field. His status for finals day is in doubt.
Saint Andrew's Matthew Cross
The Scotland wicket-keeper batsman has impressed with his glove work since debuting in 2013, but his batting has lacked consistency, partly because he hasn't had a stable batting position - he has shuffled between No. 3 and No. 7.
He didn't bat in the opening win over Hong Kong when Scotland made 189 for 3. He then made 4 against the Netherlands before Paul van Meekeren had him edging behind. Coetzer and coach Grant Bradburn kept the faith with Cross at first drop against Oman and he rewarded them with a handy knock.
He played the spinners with confidence, depositing Lalcheta over midwicket on a slog sweep for six, and was even more fluent when Oman brought back their medium pacers, hitting Mohammad Nadeed for six and four in the 12th over.
Cross hit two more fours off Bilal Khan in the 17th over before he was deceived by a slower ball from left-arm quick in the same over three short of a half-century. If Berrington can't go on finals day, Cross must step up again with the bat for Scotland to have their best chance of slaying both Ireland and Afghanistan.