28th Match, Group B, North Sound, June 13, 2024, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(3.1/20 ov, T:48) 50/2

England won by 8 wickets (with 101 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
Cricinfo's MVP
52.12 ptsImpact List

England aim to revive rocky title defence against Oman

They need to win their remaining games, and for Australia to beat Scotland to have a chance of making the next round

Match details

England vs Oman
Antigua, Thursday, 1500 local time

Big picture: England - what have you got?

The first of a three-part fightback must start here. Before England can even indulge the unthinkable - rooting for Australia to take down Scotland by a sizeable enough margin to grant them sheepish passage into the Super Eights - they must hold up their end of this monkey-paw deal with NRR-boosting victories over Oman and Namibia. Simple enough in the spreadsheets.
That Oman come first on Thursday is welcome. Three games in, they look a team on the wane, one stretched to their limits after two solid showings. A valiant Super Over defeat to Namibia and a solid start with the ball against Australia gave way to a listless display against Scotland.
The 19th-ranked team in the world are currently number one as far as drops go - a total of eight putting them bottom on the catching front in the T20 World Cup. Captain Aqib Ilyas also lamented the number of dot balls faced on Sunday, which resulted in a score of 150 for 7, which Scotland knocked off with seven wickets and all of 6.5 overs to spare.
Form does not quite go out the window for their meeting with England, no matter how much introspection the defending champions have indulged since Saturday's defeat to Australia. And it is Oman's tentativeness with the bat that will give Jos Buttler's bowlers the belief they can make amends for two less-than-convincing outings.
Buttler has put on a cheerier front this week, discarding the sterner visage he had adopted at the start of the T20 World Cup. ICC competitions demand a lot from captains when it comes to media engagements, and Buttler's lack of enthusiasm for such duties is nothing new. So, it is fair to assume his new tact is an attempt to channel more favourable chi.
The proximity to the 2023 ODI World Cup failure makes comparisons unavoidable, and the inability to call an audible in the field against Australia speaks to similar errors in planning. David Warner and Travis Head kiboshed a prepared plan of straight lines and length from the quicks, peppering the short boundary early on. Only Jofra Archer had the wherewithal - and skill - to make adjustments, leaning on cutters to emerge relatively unscathed with an economy rate of seven. The gut feel on Will Jacks for the second over was probably indigestion.
That Australia's pace attack took cues from Archer means analysing England's one batting innings in two weeks is a little pointless. The collective 77 from 66 balls managed by batters three to seven was far from ideal, but understandable given the pace-off, Adam Zampa-led squeeze after Buttler and Phil Salt's opening stand of 73. Nevertheless, improvements need to be made by the individuals - particularly Jonny Bairstow, who struck 7 from 12 deliveries before tamely hoicking one in the air - by any means necessary.
There is a sense, however, that this group - even those, like Bairstow, who were on deck for last winter's debacle in India - have their heads well and truly in the game. Their 2022 success was ultimately forged by a similar fightback following defeat to Ireland and a washout against Australia. Though there is a little less in their control this time around, they will look to emerge from the corner for what will be a defining four days for this iteration of English white-ball cricket.

Form guide

England: LWWLW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)

In the spotlight - Harry Brook and Aqib Ilyas

Part of the criticism Bairstow copped for his innings in Barbados was fuelled by the "demotion" of Harry Brook to number six. Moeen Ali's floating role - which is set to continue - saw him come in ahead of Brook, who eventually got to the crease upon Moeen's dismissal with 74 to get in just 26 deliveries. The Yorkshire wunderkind could only manage 20 from 16.
Brook has never batted higher than four in T20I cricket, and he's only done that six times in 29 knocks. Getting him into an innings early makes sense, and No.4 seems a prime spot for him in this line-up. Whether that means dropping Bairstow down the order or altogether - unlikely for now - it feels a necessary play to ensure Brook is not wasted. It is worth noting that both times Brook has faced more than 30 deliveries, he has pocketed half-centuries at strike rates of 231.42 (against Pakistan in 2022) and 186.11 (against New Zealand in 2023).
Aqib Ilyas was refreshingly honest after the defeat against Scotland. But it is time for the Oman captain to contribute. Three innings at first drop have reaped just 34 runs from 25 deliveries, all of which have come in the first six overs. He did at least practice the positivity he preached in his last innings, striking 16 off five before being trapped lbw by Safyaan Sharif.
His party trick of bowling offspin to left-handers and leg breaks to right-handers has been effective enough. He started economically across the first two matches at Bridgetown, particularly with his 0 for 18 from four overs against Australia. But there was a rude awakening at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium when his three overs were taken for 41.

Team news

Reece Topley is likely to be brought in for his first appearance of the tournament to add some much-needed dimension to England's bowling attack. If that is the case, it will be for Chris Jordan, with the understanding that England are set to continue with dual pace-threat of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer. The temptation to draft in Ben Duckett to add a left-hander to the XI, at the expense of Bairstow, has been resisted for now.
England (probable): 1 Phil Salt, 2 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 3 Will Jacks, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Jofra Archer 9. Mark Wood, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Reece Topley
Oman need a refresh of their batting after a series of costly false starts. Their lead batter Ayaan Khan, with 92 runs at an average of 46.00, has been operating at six but is surely due for a promotion.
Oman (probable): 1 Pratik Athavale (wk), 2 Naseem Khushi, 3 Aqib Ilyas (capt), 4 Zeeshan Maqsood, 5 Ayaan Khan, 6 Rafiullah, 7 Mohammad Nadeem, 8 Mehran Khan, 9 Fayyaz Butt, 10 Samay Shrivastava, 11 Bilal Khan

Pitch and conditions

The two matches played at North Sound so far have both been one-sided, which makes judging the surface a little harder. The ball has carried through well, and batters' intent does bring rewards, but the wind is a big factor here. Much like in Bridgetown, it goes across the ground and is more forceful given the openness of this venue. The forecast looks good, with intermittent cloud cover and an afternoon high of 30 degrees Celsius.

Stats and trivia

  • This is the first meeting between England and Oman in a full international fixture
  • Despite playing 13 times at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, including twice during December's white-ball tour of the Caribbean, this will be England's first T20I at the venue. They played here twice during the 2007 ODI World Cup, against Sri Lanka and Australia, losing both.
  • Zeeshan Maqsood needs two more wickets to become the second Oman player with 50 T20I wickets after Bilal Khan


"We're treating this game with Oman in isolation. They've got our full attention. We're going to prepare really well for that. And then see what happens in this game. If we get into a position where we're in a dominant position and can push hard, we will. If we have to scrap and fight and get the two points, we will as well."
England white-ball coach Matthew Mott

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
ENG 100%
100%50%100%OMA InningsENG Innings

Over 4 • ENG 50/2

England won by 8 wickets (with 101 balls remaining)
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ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Super Eights, Group 1
Super Eights, Group 2
Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D