Oman cricketers have made history again by winning the inaugural Gulf T20I Cricket Championship, defeating UAE in the final by five wickets with four balls to spare.
This is Oman’s second major title in the T20 format, having won the inaugural ACC T20 Cup in Kuwait in 2007.
Oman’s head coach Duleep Mendis is the architect of the team’s rise in the T20 format, having joined in September 2012. Under his guidance, Oman have qualified twice for the ICC T20 World Cup (2016 and 2021) and have won the ACC T20 in UAE.
Mendis is particularly pleased with the way the team came back from two defeats in the group stage to win the last two matches and qualify for the final. He has also praised the team’s fighting qualities and the way they made a comeback in the tournament.
Mendis says that the win had a lot to do with the strong support the team received from the Oman Cricket (OC) chairman, Pankaj Khimji, Madhu Jesrani (OC secretary), Alkesh Joshi (treasurer) and other board members and support staff.
This victory is a massive achievement for Oman cricket and it is hoped that the team will continue to build on this success in the future.
Thrilling final of Gulf T20I Cricket Championship
Chasing a victory target of 164 after restricting UAE to 163/5, Oman rode on Ilyas’ knock of 67 and an unbeaten 53 from Ayaan to reach the target.
Shoaib Khan contributed a vital 22 after the team was reduced to 11 for two. A 66-run stand between Ilyas and Shoaib put the team back on course.
Earlier, Bilal Khan and Ilyas picked up two wickets apiece to restrict the UAE to 163. Skipper Muhammad Waseem top scored with 46.
Oman’s Story Began with a defeat
Earlier in the tournament, Oman reached the final despite two defeats in the round-robin format.
Oman lost their opening match to UAE by 22 runs but exacted revenge for the trophy.
Oman bounced back to defeat the hosts Qatar by 19 runs but lost to Bahrain in one of the most thrilling games as Mendis’ men went down by one run.
Oman then demolished Saudi Arabia by 47 runs and booked a place in the final with a massive 68-run win over Kuwait on Friday.
Oman’s Captain Leading from the front
Skipper Aqib Ilyas emerged as the tournament’s highest scorer with 90, scoring in the opener against the UAE. His 52-ball innings was studded with ten boundaries and four maximums. Ilyas also scored a valuable half-century in the title clash against the UAE and was the tournament’s second-highest run-getter with 205 runs in five innings. He ended with an average of 41. His all-round effort in the final (67 and 2/24) earned him the Player of the Final award.
Ilyas was given good support by Ayaan Khan, who finished the tournament with a total of 182 runs at an average of 36.4. Ayaan was the only other Omani cricketer to win the Player of the Match award as he was selected for his all-round display against Saudi Arabia with 34 runs and 2/16.
Besides Ilyas and Ayaan, the only other batter who scored a fifty for Oman was wicketkeeper Naseem Khushi, who hammered 67 against Saudi Arabia.
Khushi also set another record with the most dismissals in the tournament with seven that included three stumpings and four catches.
His excellent display behind the stumps led him past former Oman skipper and wicketkeeper Sultan Ahmed for the most dismissals in T20Is with 18, out of which seven were recorded in the first Gulf T20I Championship. Sultan had held the record of 17 dismissals.
The bowling attack that was lauded by Mendis was led by pacer Bilal Khan, who emerged as the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker with 10 wickets, just one behind the tournament’s best of 11 by Ali Naseen of the UAE.
Fayyaz Butt picked a total of nine while the best bowling spell by an Oman at the tournament was from Mehran Khan with 3/17 against Qatar. Fayyaz Butt’s 3-29 against Bahrain was another fruitful spell.
Oman’s Best Performers at a Glance at the Gulf T20I Cricket Championship
Aqib Ilyas: 5 innings, 205 runs, SR – 158+, 50’s – 2
Ayaan Khan: 6 innings, 182 runs, SR – 127, 50’s – 1
(SR: strike rate)
Bilal Khan: 6 inns, 10 wickets, Overs – 23.0, Eco – 6.39
Fayyaz Butt: 6 inns, 9 wickets, Overs – 21.0, Eco – 6.33
Oman’s Notable Performances:
Aqib Ilyas: 90 (52) vs UAE in the opening league match
Mehran Khan: 3/17 in 4 overs vs Qatar
Naseem Khushi: 64 (45) vs Saudi Arabia as opener
Final: Aqib Ilyas 67 (33) and Ayaan Khan 53 (38)
Naseem Khushi 7 [4 catches, 3 stumpings]
Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas vs UAE
93 runs for the second wicket