Oman crash Nepal’s party with T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier title in Kathmandu

The two sides celebrate booking tickets for the main event with an epic final in front of a stunning crowd

Aqib Ilyas celebrates taking a wicket for Oman during the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier final against Nepal. Subas Humagain for The National
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Oman proved to be the best type of gatecrashers as they claimed the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier trophy at a pulsating Tribhuvan University stadium in Kathmandu.

It would be easy to say they broke the hearts of the extraordinary home support, as they beat Nepal to the title. Maybe they did, but if so, they did their very best to mend them straight away.

The final in Kirtipur was sensational. A tie after the 40 overs had been bowled, thanks to a run out off the final ball. Then a Super Over which, in truth, was entirely one-sided.

It was one of those rare occasions where the action on the field can even hold a candle to the scenes beyond the boundary in Kathmandu.

Both sides had arrived for the final demob happy. By reaching this point, they had taken care of the main business of the tournament.

That was earning qualification for the T20 World Cup in the United States and the West Indies next year.

Nepal had done so by beating the UAE in the semi-final two days earlier. That game had been played at the smaller of the two venues for this tournament, in Mulpani.

Ticket sales for that match were capped at 3,500. That was pitifully few, given the demand. Despite pleas from the Cricket Association of Nepal for fans to stay away and watch from home, and police checkpoints being set up on roads around the ground, there were in excess of 20,000 there.

Although the final was really little more than a ceremonial event, the fans again turned up in droves. Officially, there were 12,000 tickets sold. There were a good deal more than that inside by the end.

And the attendance inside was matched beyond the barbed wire-topped perimeter walls. Holes were torn in advertising boards so fans could peer through.

Hundreds climbed to watch from the highest branches of the trees which ring the ground. They would find the firmest branches to perch on, then place their shoes, bags and motorcycle helmets on the flimsier ones.

Among the thousands present was even the Nepal prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

They all had their hopes dashed at the end as Oman took the title but had been royally entertained by that point.

The sides made matching totals of 184. Nepal managed it for the loss of six wickets thanks to a reviving half-century by Gulsan Jha.

Kashyap Prajapati then blazed 63 to fire Oman’s reply, but they fell one short of winning it in normal time after Fayyaz Butt was run out off the last ball.

Nepal made an unexpected call in the Super Over when they entrusted the six balls to Abinash Bohara, the medium pacer.

Bohara is probably the lowest profile of a home bowling attack which also includes Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami and Karan KC.

It proved an injudicious call. Naseem Khushi took him for three sixes, and Nepal were left to chase 22.

In response, Oman went for the most obvious option available to them. Bilal Khan is one of the outstanding bowlers in associate cricket, and a masterly bowler of the yorker.

Kushal Malla did take his last two deliveries for boundaries, but Bilal had done the job by then.

Oman’s reserves and support staff swarmed onto the field to join the wild celebrations. Their cheers echoed around a newly silenced TU.

And yet they did their best to cheer the defeated opposition supporters. They did a lap of honour before being followed by Nepal’s players, and threw their caps to the fans for souvenirs.

Mazhar Khan, their long-serving assistant coach, did an extra lap, emptying their supply of practice balls by lobbing them into the crowd.

Once that stash ran out, he started dealing out bottles of Coca-Cola, too. The players joined him, passing on items of their own cricket equipment.

It meant everyone went home more or less happy. And for each of these teams, they can look forward to the onward leg of their journey to the World Cup.

Updated: November 05, 2023, 10:11 AM