As coverage of the first match on day two of the World T20 Cup gets underway (Ireland are in action against the Netherlands) I look back at the events of the opening day.
OMAN V PAPUA NEW GUINEA
The tournament is being co-hosted by Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and yesterday’s action came from the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat. The first game saw the co-hosts in action against world cup debutants Papua New Guinea. PNG had not played an international fixture in 670 days and sadly it showed.
Oman put PNG into bat and after 1.3 overs the score was 0-2, with both openers gone. PNG skipper Assad Vala (56) and Charles Amini (37) shared the only substantial partnership of the innings. Once Amini was third out at 81 the rot quickly set in and PNG finished with a score of 129 which did not look like being adequate. Left arm spinner and Omani captain Zeeshan Maqsood took 4-20, a superb performance.
Aqib Ilyas and Jatinder Singh opened the batting for Oman and they were the only batters required by the co-hosts, knocking the runs off with 6.2 overs to spare. Singh with 73 not out was especially impressive and finished proceedings with a six, while Ilyas also had an unbeaten half century to his credit.
For PNG as well as Vala and Amini with the bat Kiplin Doriga impressed behind the stumps.
SCOTLAND V BANGLADESH
The second match saw Scotland in action against Bangladesh, who had recently won a T20 series against no lesser opponents than Australia. When Scotland slumped to 53-6 the match seemed to be going emphatically according to the form book. However a lower order revival spearheaded by Chris Greaves got Scotland to 140, a total large enough not to be an absolute formality to chase down. Scotland’s three county seamers, Davey (Somerset), Sharif (Derbyshire) and Wheal (Hampshire) all bowled well, and Bangladesh lost two early wickets before Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim steadied the ship. However, this pair, especially al Hasan, dropped increasingly behind the rate, and when al Hasan holed out off the irrepressible Greaves for a 28 ball 20 Scotland became favourites, an impression that was reinforced a few moments later when Rahim also fell. Bangladesh had one big over, but for most of their innings they were dropping ever further behind the rate, which climbed past 12 per over with four overs remaining. Scotland’s left arm spinner, Mark Watt (as far as I am aware unrelated to James Watt of steam engine fame) bowled an exemplary 18th over, finishing his spell with 4-0-19-1. The 19th over was also a good one and Bangladesh went into the 20th needing 24 to win. The last over was Bangladesh’s second best of the innings, but they finished up beaten by six runs, and in truth this was a more comfortable victory than that narrow margin suggests – Bangladesh scored less than the required rate in 19 of their 20 overs, including that crazy last over. Greaves, with a crucial 45 and 2-19 from three overs of leg spin was quite rightly named Player of the Match. Bangladesh are in serious jeopardy of failing to qualify for the super 12s, while at the moment Scotland’s third group match, against Oman, has all the appearances of being the game that will decide who wins the group.
An upset early on in a big tournament is always good news, and this one had the additional bonus of featuring an epic recovery act. When Shakib al Hasan was dismissed I posted on twitter that I reckoned that made Scotland favourites and got a disdainful response from a Bangladesh fan who was still in denial about how badly his team were playing. However, my reasons for making the call I did were sound, and I was proven right. The series that Bangladesh won against Australia was played in Bangladesh and was very low scoring, taking place on wickets that were obviously prepared to emasculate the batters, making scoring very difficult indeed. Here, on a good cricket pitch, giving everyone the opportunity to shine Bangladesh were exposed.
My usual sign off…