World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Oman cause major upset
A pair of sensational catches sparked an extraordinary collapse by Afghanistan as Oman continue to defy their pre-tournament expectations with a 40 run win. Sultan Ahmed took four catches despite a dolly of a drop early and a later clear edge unrewarded. But it was his dismissal of his fellow captain, Stanikzai that lifted his team at precisely the right time. Running back to fine-leg, he called out the on-rushing fieldsman, pouched it with is last step, and stood arms wide as his team-mates embraced him.
Man of the match, Mehran Khan had a brilliant day. First pushing his team to a defendable total of 144/7 with a 28 run cameo off 17 balls, then dismissing Ahmadi and Stanikzai in his first spell. But it was in the field in the 14th over that he made his most spectacular contribution. Off the first ball, Shenwari just barely cleared his outreached hands at deep mid-wicket. Off the last ball of the over he didn't, as Mehran ran round and took it, jumping, taking it one-handed over his left shoulder, and rolling just inches inside the rope.
Teetering now, with 57 required off the last 6 overs, Mehran had Nabi lbw playing across the line, and Shafiqullah to a diving catch from his captain the following ball. Finishing with 4/24 off his 4 overs. Cleverly, Oman then brought back Munis Ansari, and he ripped through Najibullah Zadran's defences to put Oman in a near impregnable position. A pair of boundaries, in the following over was Afghanistan's last hurrah. Zeeshan Maqsood took three wickets in the 18th over for one run, as his sharply turning balls were skied to fieldsman. The 40 run win celebrated vigorously as the entire squad ran onto the ground.
Earlier in the day, Jatinder Singh again anchored a controlled innings from Oman, with 40 off 48 balls. The early loss of Zeeshan Maqsood to a unsightly slog was offset by some sensible batting and clean hitting down the ground. The choice to rest Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran in favour of Shapoor Zadran came back to bite Afghanistan, as the run-rate never let up, and the total was a defendable one.
Once again, Mohammad Shahzad top scored with 28 off 17 for Afghanistan in their innings, and they looked comfortable at 1/61 in the 10th over. But it was a fortunate start, largely scored behind square. Once the Oman team started taking the chances they were offered, the innings fell apart, and the loss was, in the end, substantial. Whether it will be significant remains to be seen. Afghanistan have only Canada to play and will top the group if they win it, while Oman find themselves in a five way tussle for three spots. Based on their last two games though, noone would deny them if the find their way to Ireland