Oman 207/6 (Illyas 63 Kumer 35, Amini 3-39) defeated Papau New Guinea 206/9 (Ura 34 Hiri 31, Odedra 4-34) by 4 wickets with 2.2 overs remaining

The first round of the inaugural Cricket World Cup League 2 concluded with a narrow win for Oman over Papua New Guinea, leaving them first equal for points with hosts Scotland, but behind on the table on net run rate. Winning the toss, Oman elected to bowl, an interesting decision given that the previous two matches teams had elected the same and suffered defeats, but both of Oman’s earlier wins came from chasing, including a comfortable win over PNG.

PNG started with another good opening stand, Tony Ura (34) and Gaudi Toka (23) putting on 48, the pair holding three of the four highest opening stands of the round, before Toka was clean bowled by Bilal Khan. Captain Assad Vala joined Ura, and the pair continued the strong start, taking Fayyaz Butt for 16 runs in one particularly wayward over that included two no balls. But from there, Oman found their lines, and the PNG innings never gained the same momentum.

After a period of no boundaries, Ura was caught attempting a hook and soon after Vala fell to off spinner Jay Odedra just two balls after slogging him for six. On a pitch where Scotland played four specialist spinners the day before, Oman used five of their own, the consistent turn not letting PNG get any easy runs away. Knowing that 200 is a respectable total here, they kept their wickets in hand and built partnerships, but consistent inroads from the Omani spinners, in particular Odedra who ended with four wickets, kept them from allowing anyone to break the shackles. A 52-run partnership between Kiplin Doriga (24) and Chad Soper (29) was the largest of their innings, before a final push led by Hiri Hiri (31*) took the total to 206/9, including a 35-run unbeaten stand for the final wicket.

Having successfully chased in both their victories earlier in the competition, Oman knew how to go about batting on the slow surface. Norman Vanua got a vital early breakthrough, getting Jatinder Singh (6) with a bat-pad return catch, but an excellent stand between Khawar Ali (32) and Aqib Ilyas (63) seemed to take the game out of PNG’s grasp. It was interrupted just two shy of being only the second 100 partnership of the series (by the same two batsmen against Scotland) when Ilyas attempted to hit out against Amini only to find midwicket.

PNG then pulled themselves back into the game thanks to some less than sensible batting, as Amini’s leg spin claimed two further scalps and Oman lost five quick wickets to see themselves at 136/6. PNG used eight bowlers in total, and though they have billed themselves as a team of allrounders, it may have been too little too late in terms of working out who could get the most purchase from the surface. Another strong partnership and some more sensible batting saw Oman home, as Mohammad Nadeem (29*) and Suraj Kumar (35*) finished the game off with an unbeaten stand of 71, eventually reaching victory in the 48th over.

Oman finish the series with three wins from four, while Papua New Guinea head home empty-handed despite some strong performances. Ilyas ended just four runs short of Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer for the series’ top runscorer, while Khawar Ali’s sole wicket took him to 9 for the series, one behind leader Hamza Tahir.

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