'Bowlers bounced back in the last five overs' - Mendis
Cinderella crashed the World Twenty20 Qualifier in style in Malahide on Thursday as Oman continued their improbable journey by storming away with a five-wicket win over Namibia. The win sealed Oman's first ever spot in a major ICC event with a trip to India now booked for next year's ICC World Twenty20 and victory for Oman also secured T20 international status for the next four years. Zeeshan Siddiqui's sixth four over long-off capped the chase with an over to spare and brought up his half-century off 32 balls.
Oman's chase was aggressive from the start after being set a modest target of 149. They powered to 41 in five overs thanks to confident hitting from Khawar Ali and Zeeshan Maqsood. Khawar fell off the first ball of the sixth for 18 after being done in by a Sarel Burger slower ball while Maqsood fell for 28 after trying to sneak a second run off a misfield. Aamir Kaleem was Bernard Scholtz's 14th wicket of the tournament, caught behind after gloving an attempted sweep for 8 to make it 67 for 3 in nine overs.
However, Oman did not let Bernard tie them down as he had done successfully against other teams, using their feet to shuffle around the crease and create room for scoring options, mainly with deft glides for singles and twos in the gaps in front of square. After the game, Siddiqui indicated that Oman's daily net sessions against their own arsenal of left-arm spinners - Ajay Lalcheta, Aamer Kaleem and Maqsood - had prepared them well for the challenge posed by Bernard. His figures of 1 for 29 were Bernard's second-worst of the tournament as Siddiqui and Jatinder Singh manufactured a 62-run stand to put Oman in total control.
When Jatinder was run out for 33 attempting a tight single, Oman were left needing 20 off 19 balls with six wickets in hand. Gerrie Snyman prized out another wicket in the following over, getting Mehran Khan inside-edge an attempted slog onto his stumps. But Siddiqui washed away any nervous energy by bashing Gerrie for six over long-off which prompted his new batting partner Aamer Ali to race down the wicket and give him a bear hug.
Another four by Siddiqui to end the over through cover spurred another embrace from Aamer. Six balls later, Siddiqui sealed the match to spark emotional celebrations on the pitch. Namibia have now lost four consecutive opportunities to clinch a spot in the World T20, after two playoff losses in 2012 and now a couple in 2014.
Oman opted to field first, and found immediate success, as Gerrie Snyman was trapped lbw for a second-ball duck. However, for the rest of the first 10 overs, Oman showed their nerves as Namibia capitalised on four missed chances to race to 80 for 2. The biggest misses came off Stephan Baard, who survived on 26 and 33 to make a 52-ball 62 - after a skier at midwicket and a thick edge to short third man went to ground.
However, Oman found renewed focus towards the death overs, as Namibia slipped from 134 for 4 to 148 for 9. The spirit came in the form of the slingy Munis Ansari. Just as he did in the win over Netherlands, Ansari struck multiple times at the death to rein in any chances of a big finish from Namibia. The major blows came on consecutive balls in the 18th over, when Nicolaas Scholtz was caught at square leg for 6 and Baard was pinned walking across his stumps as the Oman bench erupted.
Aamir Kaleem had Gerhard Erasmus stumped in the 19th over for 2 before Ansari came back in the 20th to have JP Kotze caught at backward point by Mehran Khan. A run-out off the final ball prevented a second run and Ansari's final figures of 3 for 23 were a big bounce back after a rocky start. In the end, it helped put Oman into their first World Cup in any format.