Ireland suffers shock defeat

Suraj Kumar plays a shot during his unbeaten knock of 56 against Ireland at Amerat on Saturday

The match at the picturesque Amerat ground on Saturday was only a practice game for Ireland ahead of the Quadrangular T20I Series, starting on February 13. However, the Test-playing nation, suffered an embarrassingfour-wicket loss at the hands of Oman Development XI.

Ireland, which is the first Test-playing nation to visit the sultanate, is on a tour here en route to India, and is one of the favourites to emerge on top in the Quadrangular T20I Series, beginning at the same venue from February 13. Hosts Oman, Scotland and the Netherlands are the other teams in fray.

Ireland, which arrived for a camp on February 3, took on the Oman Development XI, a squad comprising a mix of national team and reserve players.

A warm-up game, which was expected to be a stroll in the park for the visitors turned the other way as the hosts ran away as victor in the first of the two T20 warm-up games.

Oman Development XI rode on an unbeaten 56 off 41 balls from Suraj Kumar, an innings that was studded with four boundaries and three sixes.

Earlier, some tidy spell from the hosts' bowlers had the visitors restricted to just 112 for eight in 20 overs.

The match was Paul Stirling’s first as Ireland captain and Harry Tector’s debut in the senior men’s side. Put to bat first, Ireland struggled against the local pace attack.

Despite two boundaries in the first three balls of the innings, Stirling fell early for eight, and the visiting side’s top-order failed to click and was tottering at 47 for six at the half-way mark of the innings.

A responsible late-order batting from George Dockrell, who made an unbeaten 26 from 22 balls, got Ireland past the three-digit figure as it finished at 112 for eight.

Gopendra Bohra and Badal Singh took two wickets each while Sufyan Mehmood and Ayaan Khan picked a wicket apiece.

In reply, the home side’s opener Sanuth Ibrahim blazed to 28 from 16 balls, which included four boundaries and one six, as the hosts raced to 55 for three in seven overs despite losing skipper Twinkal Bhandari and Wasim Ali cheaply.

Ireland captain Stirling then turned to spinner Simi Singh, whose first ball had Ayaan Khan clean bowled. 

A mix-up two balls later saw Oman lose Sindo Michael and at a precarious 55 for five, it still needed 58 runs for victory.

But Kumar and his unbeaten 43-run stand with Sandeep Goud took the hosts past the target for a morale-boosting win as it completed the run-chase in the 16th over with Goud unbeaten on 11.

The two sides meet again in a second warm-up match at the same venue on Sunday.

Brief scores: Ireland 112-8 in 20 overs (Dockrell 26 n.o., Andy Balbirnie 18; Bohra 2-20, Singh 2-16) lost to Oman Development XI 116-6 in 15.2 overs (Kumar 56 n.o, Ibrahim 28; Joshua Little 2-14, Peter Chase 2-42).

 @ashokmuscat

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