Oman continue fine form with hard-fought win over USA

Four-wicket victoryin Cricket World Cup League Two takes them a step closer to 50-over showpiece event

Ten years ago there was not a single turf cricket ground in Oman. Even now, they only have two – admittedly extremely high-spec – grass fields for cricket.

Given that the system which feeds players to the national team is largely based on cricket that is played on cement wickets, with gravel or sand outfields, they should really not be this good.

And, yet they cannot stop winning. At their plush ground in Al Amerat in front of a jovial Thursday evening crowd, they beat United States by four wickets in the final over of their latest one-day international.

It was their 10th win in 12 matches in the Cricket World Cup League Two. On paper, they do still have a little bit to do to assure themselves a place at the global qualifier for the next 50-over World Cup.

But it seems far fetched to think they are not already as good as there. They are playing a different game to everyone else at present.

And they have the T20 World Cup – with a group stage on home soil - to look forward to next month. Life could scarcely get much sweeter.

“Our approach is always the same: we want to play attacking cricket, and be very positive,” Duleep Mendis, the Oman coach, said.

“Especially when we are chasing small targets, we want to get it soon. This game was a bit different [than the win over Nepal two days earlier] but the approach remains the same."

Everyone at the ground would have been preparing for an early finish after Oman had reduced USA to 96-8, with a little over half their overs bowled.

The sides looked to be classes apart at that point, but the momentum shifted significantly with a few hefty swings of Elmore Hutchinson’s bat.

Coming to the crease at No 10 in the order, Hutchinson shocked the home bowlers with a rough counter attack, including two huge sixes.

He put on 66 for the ninth wicket with Karima Gore, and was unlucky to end not out on 49 when USA were eventually bowled out for 178.

That was 18 runs less than the target Oman had raced to, in beating Nepal with the best part of 20 spare, two nights earlier.

The task was far less facile this time, particularly once Jatinder Singh, the century-making hero last time, fell in the third over this time around.

He was the second victim for Saurabh Netravalker, the USA captain. The left-arm seam bowler used all his nous to keep his side in the game, and Oman only really escaped the grip with two overs left.

Sandeep Goud put one onto the roof of the pavilion, and the pressure was suddenly released. They ended up getting over the line with two balls to spare.

“We gave our best and I am proud of the effort we put in,” Netravalkar said.

“We tried our best, but credit to them for getting over the line.”

Updated: September 16th 2021, 6:49 PM