Assarain regains glory

Jubilant Assarain players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Oman Cricket T20 Premier League title at Amerat on Friday. 

Assarain has been either a winner or a runner-up team in top-flight cricket since the past eight seasons. Days after it finished runner-up in the Oman 2018-19 Cricket Premier League (50-over format), it shook away its disappointment with a title – its ninth across three tournaments since 2011-12 season.

The latest success came in the Oman Cricket T20 Premier League as it trounced Passage to India (PTI), the newly-crowned Premier League 50-over format champion, by 39 runs in the league’s concluding game at Amerat on Friday.

The win helped Assarain grab its fourth successive win in the second round and brought it level with Al Turki NMC’s tally of ten points from eight games.

However, Assarain bagged the title on better net run-rate (NRR) as it had +0.477 as compared to Al Turki’s +0.005. PTI finished third with eight points while Muscat CT and Enhance CT came fourth and fifth respectively.

The title also bettered Assarain's last season's runner-up finish as it regained the crown it had won twice in a row (2015-16 and 2016-17).

It was yet another tale of a turnaround by a team in the league this season, as Assarain scripted a remarkable comeback after collecting just two points in  round one. It bounced back to win the next four matches to seal the crown. It may be recalled that PTI had staged a similar comeback in the 50-over format to claim the 2018-19 title.

“It was an unbelievable turnaround,” said a delighted Vinu Mathew, the team manager.

Mathew added, “We have been among the top-two teams, be it the 50-over format or T20 or T20 knockout tournaments over the past few seasons. It underlines our consistency across all formats. I am proud that our boys have won the T20 league after finishing runner-up in the 50-over format.”

“Our target was to repeat our double success we had achieved in 2016-17 season. We were close to it again,” said Mathew.

Assarain skipper Naseem Khushi said, “It was a stunning recovery after a disappointing first round. To win four games on a trot was a great comeback. We deserved the title.”

On the pitch, Assarain scored 139 for nine with Khushi leading from the front with a 17-ball 36. Gustav Burger made 24 and was supported well by Sami Ur Rehman (23). Burger rocked PTI's chase as he took two wickets for ten and PTI was bowled out for 100 in 18.5 overs.

Asif Khan (32) and Sultan Ahmed (24) were the main run-getters for PTI.

Later, Shankar Gopalkrishnan, executive director, Khimji Ramdas, gave away the trophy and runner-up awards in the presence of Oman Cricket officials.

Brief scores: Assarain 139-9 in 20 overs (Khushi 36, Burger 24, Sami Ur Rahman 23) beat PTI 100 all out in 18.5 overs (Khan 32, Ahmed 24; Burger 2-10).

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