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UAE, Ireland seal semi-final spots from Group A; Nepal, Oman progress from Group B

Bahrain's consolation win not enough; Philippines rolled over for 36 by Oman while Canada crumble to 80

Vriitya Aravind's 84* took UAE into the semi-final  •  Peter Della Penna

Vriitya Aravind's 84* took UAE into the semi-final  •  Peter Della Penna

A wild day in Oman saw three blowouts and one match go down to the wire to decide the four semi-finalists still in with a shot at reaching the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia. Here's how the final day unfolded.
Group A
Bahrain 172 for 5 (Mathias 46*, Imtiaz 42, Hameed 1-10) beat UAE 170 for 6 (Aravind 84*, Mustafa 41, Sarfaraz 2-24) by two runs
Bahrain and UAE experienced the full gamut of emotions in a see-saw affair that saw Bahrain prevail by two runs in the biggest upset of the tournament. However, they still failed to advance to the semi-final as UAE stayed fractionally ahead of them on net run rate.
Choosing to bat first, Bahrain lost a wicket on the second ball of play as Muhammad Younis cut Basil Hameed's offspin to backward point for a duck. But they counterattacked through captain Sarfaraz Ali and wicketkeeper Umer Imtiaz, who put on a 50-run stand for the second wicket. Sarfaraz muscled four fours and two sixes, seizing on UAE's bowling unit going too full, to drive over the in-field on the way to 32 off 22 balls. He finally fell trying to drive over the top one time too many, as legspinner Karthik Meiyappan induced a skied catch to long-off in the seventh over to break the stand.
Imtiaz eventually fell for a career-best 42 before Sathaiya Veerapathiran followed five balls later for 2. But former Karnataka player David Mathias, who hit 46* off 35 balls, teamed with Haider Butt, who got 35 from 17, in an extraordinary 76-run stand off the final 34 deliveries. UAE almost paid dearly for choosing to rest their best pace bowler Zahoor Khan, as their replacement options at the death failed to contain Mathias and Butt, who like Sarfaraz continued to seize on full lengths as Bahrain ended up with nine sixes in their innings.
On paper, UAE were set a target of 173 to win the match but needed to score at least 158 to stay ahead of Bahrain on net run rate tie-breaker. UAE lost heavy-hitting opener Muhammad Waseem for 2 in the second over to a flat-footed swish, giving an edge behind off Shahid Mahmood's medium pace. Chirag Suri then fell on the first ball after the powerplay for 26, miscuing a pull to midwicket off Veerapathiran's medium pace.
But Rohan Mustafa joined 19-year-old Vriitya Aravind for a 91-run partnership to get UAE back on course. With the score 65 for 2 after ten, it became clear that UAE's primary focus was on getting to 158, with the match target of 173 a cherry on top. Bahrain had a chance to heap more pressure on the opposition, but failed to capitalise on a pair of chances offered by Mustafa. The first came on 18 in the 12th over bowled by left-arm spinner Muhammad Waseeq, who induced a skied chance to long-off that Junaid Aziz failed to hold on to running in from the rope.
That became the only over of spin bowled in the chase as Sarfaraz took Waseeq straight out of the attack. It meant that Sarfaraz also did not give a single over to Aziz despite the fact that the legspinner had been Bahrain's leading wicket-taker in the tournament, having turned in a Player-of-the-Match performance of 5 for 5 against Germany before following it up with 2 for 16 in four overs against Ireland.
Mustafa could have been run-out on 25 in the 14th over as well following a near collision with Aravind while trying to pinch a leg-bye after the ball plopped dead adjacent to the pitch. But Veerapathiran's throw upon collecting in his follow-through sailed wide at the non-striker's end with Mustafa several yards short, and wound up turning into two thanks to an overthrow. Mustafa was not as fortunate in the 18th over though, as a relay from Butt at long-on caught him sleeping while coming back very casually for a second run to end his innings for 41.
Kashif Daud was caught next ball heaving to deep midwicket for a golden duck, leaving UAE needing 32 off 16 deliveries to clinch a spot in the semi-final. Aravind had managed to cross with the ball in the air on Daud's wicket, and swung momentum back UAE's way with back-to-back sixes, bringing up a 44-ball half-century in the process.
Sarfaraz then bowled a magnificent 19th over to build tension further, conceding six runs while taking the wickets of Hameed and Zawar Farid off consecutive deliveries before Muhammad Usman saw off the hat-trick ball by striking a two to end the over. It meant Aravind would have the strike for the final over, needing 12 to see UAE into the semi-final, and 27 to win the match outright and clinch the top spot in the group ahead of Ireland on points.
Mahmood was given the ball but misfired on his lengths throughout the over. Aravind drove the first ball back down the ground for four before heaving over midwicket for another boundary. A two on the third delivery was followed by a six driven straight down the ground to clinch UAE's spot in the semi-final and knock Bahrain out.
With 11 needed off the final two balls to win and 10 to force a Super Over, Aravind cleared the boundary with another sizzling straight drive for six off the penultimate delivery before scuffing the final ball for two to long-off. But despite his heroics seeing UAE into the semi-final with an unbeaten 84, the match officials awarded Player-of-the-Match honours to Sarfaraz for leading Bahrain to their first T20I win over an Associate nation with ODI status.
Ireland 111 for 3 (Stirling 34, Balbirnie 32, Yar 2-20) beat Germany 107 for 7 (Mubashir 45*, Little 2-13, McBrine 2-15) by seven wickets
Ireland finished on top of the group after thumping Germany by seven wickets with 41 balls to spare. They started the day behind Bahrain and UAE on net run rate, but leapfrogged them both after sending Germany in and restricting them to 107 before speeding to the target. Faisal Mubashir top-scored with 45* off 40 balls for Germany but found little support elsewhere. Josh Little was named Player of the Match for Ireland after taking 2 for 13 in a brisk spell of left-arm pace.
Paul Stirling hit 34 off 27 balls and Andy Balbirnie 32 from 21, having added 67 for the first wicket before both fell in quick succession, followed a short time later by Gareth Delany for 11. But Harry Tector cracked three fours in his unbeaten 24 off 15 deliveries to take Ireland into the semi-final.
Group B
Nepal 81 for 2 (Bhurtel 34*, Airee 27*, Sana 1-14) beat Canada 80 (Heyliger 24*, Lamichanne 3-12, Bohara 2-7) by eight wickets
What was set up to be a dramatic afternoon to wrap up group play ended in a whimper, as Nepal blitzed Canada by eight wickets to finish pool play 3-0 and clinch the top spot in their group. A Canada win would have produced a three-way tie for first, along with Oman at 2-1, leaving the two semi-finalists to be decided on net run rate. But after a confident start upon choosing to bat first, Canada collapsed from 35 for 1 in the fifth over to 48 for 9 one ball into the 11th, and were eventually bowled out for 80 in 15 overs.
Kamal Singh Airee struck to claim Canada captain Navneet Dhaliwal for 18 to end a 33-run partnership, but the slide was hastened by two sloppy run-outs in which both batters wound up at the same end. Nepal captain Sandeep Lamichhane seized on the opening to rip through the middle and lower order with 3 for 12 in his four overs. Only a 32-run last-wicket stand between Dillon Heyliger and Salman Nazar saved Canada from further humiliation.
Nepal cruised to the target with 35 balls to spare. Despite a brief hiccup in the powerplay in which Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Malla fell in the space of four balls, a 58-run stand between vice-captain Dipendra Singh Airee, who ended with 27*, and Kushal Bhurtel, with 34*, took Nepal over the line and into the semi-final.
Oman 40 for 1 (Nawaz 33*, Prajapati 4, Huziaifa 1-27) beat Philippines 36 (Smith 7, Khawar 4-11, Kaleem 2-2) by nine wickets
On the adjacent oval in Al Amerat, Oman completed their rally from behind the eight-ball after a day-one loss to Nepal by completing a nine-wicket win over Philippines. Following up on another nine-wicket victory - over Canada in which Oman chased a target of 156 with two overs to spare - Oman achieved the same result chasing a far smaller target as they bowled Philippines out for 36.
After fielding first in their first two group matches and conceding back-to-back totals in excess of 200, Philippines opted to bat and responded by being bowled out for the fifth-lowest total in men's T20I history.
While the medium pace duo of Kaleemullah, with 2 for 5, and Fayyaz Butt's 2 for 7 ripped apart the top order, legspinner Khawar Ali whittled through the lower order taking 4 for 11 in a Player-of-the-Match performance. After Kashyap Prajapati fell on the second ball of the chase, Khurram Nawaz dashed any hopes Philippines had of a historic upset by cracking an unbeaten 33 off 12 balls as Oman needed just 17 deliveries to haul down the target.
The results mean that Nepal will face UAE in one semi-final, while Ireland will face Oman in the other. Each match is a winner-takes-all shootout, with the victor in each semi-final clinching a spot in the first round of the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup and a spot in the final of the qualifier in Oman, while the pair of losing sides fall back into a consolation third-place playoff.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna