Oman is Champion

Victorious Oman players and the coaching staff celebrate their win over Uganda at Amerat on Sunday. The fifth successive victory also helped the hosts to clinch the top honours in the ICC World Cricket League Division Three (V K Shafeer/Muscat Daily)

The Oman cricket players did not wait till the night to witness the National Day fireworks at Amerat on Sunday. In fact, they decided to have early celebrations and so eager were they to celebrate the 48th National Day that they demolished Uganda by ten wickets to be crowned champion of the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three.

Having secured promotion to Division Two on Friday itself with a win over US, victory on Sunday meant Oman became the first team to finish undefeated in a WCL tournament since Jersey's run in Division Five in 2014.


Ahmad Fayyaz Butt, who was adjudged the Man of the Match on Sunday

And it was the fiery spell by the Omani pacers Bilal Khan (4-12), Kaleemullah (1-8) and Ahmad Fayyaz Butt (5-22) that saw Uganda collapse like a pack of cards. Skipper Roger Mukasa was sent back to pavilion by Bilal Khan off the third ball of the match with the team yet to open its account. And Khan had his second victim when Hamu Kayondo was bowled with the team total reading only six runs.

Kaleemullah had Arnold Otwani caught behind and Uganda was tottering at eight for three.

The exodus continued as Khan castled Ronak Patel and Uganda was four down for nine in just five overs. The pace baton was then passed to Butt, who in the past four matches had just managed to pick two wickets.

The 25 year old former Pakistan U19 bowler came up with a spectacular spell to pick his maiden five-wicket haul including a hat-trick. He broke the 27-run fifth-wicket stand between Riazat Ali Shah (9) and Dinesh Nakrani (12) by having Shah caught by Jatinder Singh. Nakrani was next to go and then Butt took wickets of Bilal Hassan, Frank Nsubuge and Charles Waiswa to complete his hat-trick.    

Khan completed the rout as he bowled Henry Ssenyondo for the team to be bowled out for paltry 59 in 28.3 overs. Oman openers, Twinkal Bhandari (22) and Jatinder (36) chased down the target in 17.2 overs.

Ilyas’ ton in Oman’s victory over US

Earlier on Friday, a century from Aqib Ilyas (100) guided Oman through a tense chase against  US with three balls to spare with the win securing promotion to WCL Division Two in Namibia.

Oman sent US in and restricted to 213 for eight in 50 overs with Kaleemullah taking three for 43 with an opening spell that knocked over US's top three. Timil Patel (54 off 104 balls) and Jannisar Khan (53 off 55 balls) led US recovery to a challenging total. Ilyas along with Jatinder Singh (42) shared a 94-run second-wicket stand but when Ilyas fell at 201 for four, Oman needed 13 off 16. The chase saw Butt and Sufyan Mehmood depart to leave Oman six down for 207 but Nestor Dhamba and Suraj Kumar took the hosts home in the last over.

Brief scores: Sunday’s results: Uganda 59 all out in 28.3 overs (Butt 5-22, Khan 4-12) lost to Oman 63 for no loss in 17.2 overs (Bhandari 22 n.o, Jatinder 36 n.o.).

Kenya 216 all out in 49 overs (Alex Obanda 59, Irfan Karim 64; Saif Ahmed 4-37, Jonas Henriksen 3-46) lost to Denmark 218-1 in 45.3 overs (Hamid Shah 105 n.o. Freddie Klokker 80 n.o.).


Pankaj Khimji is lifted by Oman’s assistant coach Mazhar Khan (right), Sufyan Mahmood and Jatinder Singh after the win on Sunday

Win a National Day gift: Pankaj

The national cricket team's dominating show in the ongoing ICC WCL Division Two was double delight for the hosts as not only did Oman win promotion to Division Two but also sealed the Division Three top honours on Sunday.

Oman’s cricket fraternity was elated at the overall performance of Duleep Mendis' men and leading the tributes was Pankaj Khimji, a senior board member of the Oman Cricket (OC). “Four years ago we beat Namibia in Ireland to qualify for the ICC World T20 Qualifiers in India and dedicated that success to our nation on the eve of our Renaissance Day on July 23.

“Now we have defeated all the five teams to reach WCL Division Two to get closer to qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers too. We dedicate the success to our nation on Oman’s 48th National Day,” said Pankaj.
Oman will be playing in WCL 2 in Namibia in April 2019 with the top four teams reaching the qualifiers of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

“We dedicated a lot of our time and energy to our team’s progress. I am now far more convinced of our success, of our status because I feel today we deserve it. We have been playing consistently good cricket over the last three to four years and I believe our boys deserve to be champions,” said Pankaj.

“The fact that cricket, sports and the youth in our nation have been supported at every level and in every context is so encouraging. We feel so indebted to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for donating us the Oman Cricket Academy building and giving us his continued support all these years. We are grateful to our patron-in-chief H H Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said and H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, the Minister of Sports Affairs, for their strong support,” he added.

Pankaj said, “We are still an amateur cricket nation but I am proud of our boys who have been up against better placed teams and still performing creditably well. They are now going to play in Namibia against highly experienced teams and will have to be at their best to succeed there.”

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