ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier A: Ireland, Oman seal crucial victories to qualify for semis
IRELAND VS GERMANY – Ireland won by 7 wickets
Ireland players wore black sleeve bands in honour of former Ireland player Podge Hughes, who passed away two days ago. With two points in two games, Ireland needed a terrific showing against Germany to stay in running for the semi-finals and they put up a brilliant performance led by their bowlers. After winning the toss and putting in Germany to bat, Joshua Little made early inroads, removing the two German openers within the Powerplay. At 22/2, Germany needed someone to stabilise but Ireland had other plans. Andy McBrine dismissed Michael Richardson (6) in the ninth over. Dylan Blignaut then tried to accelerate with a few fantastic shots but he too perished in the 14th over for a 17-ball 22. Germany stuttered, losing three more wickets in the next three overs. In the end, a cameo from Faisal Mubashir (45* from 40) took them to a below-par 107/7.
With a low target to scale, Ireland began confidently with openers Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie taking the German bowlers to the cleaners. They put up a 67-run opening stand before Germany struck back. Balbirnie (32) and Stirling (34) fell in back-to-back overs and even Gareth Delany (11) departed without troubling the scorers too much. However, at 84/3, Ireland did not have too much to worry about as they easily got through the target with 6.5 overs to spare. With the seven-wicket win, Ireland are through to the semi-finals of the tournament.
UAE VS BAHRAIN – Bahrain won by 2 runs
Opting to bat first, Bahrain put up a determined performance. Recovering from an early loss, when Muhammad Younis fell to Basil Hameed for a duck in the first over, Bahrain kicked off with a bang with Sarfaraz Ali and Umer Imtiaz rapidly scoring runs. The half-century second-wicket stand was finally broken with Karthik Meiyappan getting Sarfaraz out for a 22-ball 32. But his wicket did little to slow down Bahrain's progress. Imtiaz was joined by David Mathais and the duo added another 41 runs before Imtiaz was bowled by Kashif Daud for 42. Sathaiya Veerapathiran was out early as well in the very next over. But Mathias and Haider Butt hammered the UAE bowlers, adding 68 runs in the last five overs to take Bahrain's total to a solid 172/5.
In reply, UAE stuttered early on as Muhammad Waseem was dismissed in the second over. They struggled to accelerate and reached only 35/1 in the Powerplay and soon lost Chirag Suri in the next over. The onus was on Vriitya Aravind and Rohan Mustafa to guide their team and they delivered with a fiery 91-run stand for the fourth wicket. Just when it looked like UAE were cruising towards a win, Bahrain struck twice in the 18th over. First, Mustafa was run out for 41 and on the next delivery, Imran Anwar removed Daud for a duck. The feat repeated in the 19th over when Sarfaraz got Basil Hameed and Zawar Farid off consecutive deliveries. With 27 needed in the final over, it looked like a tall ask for UAE but Aravind was in some mood. Despite a tremendous fight, smashing 4,4,2,6,6,2 in the final over, UAE fell two runs short as Bahrain secured a thrilling win. Aravind remained unbeaten on 84 off just 52 balls.
Despite the victory, Bahrain finished third in Group B and failed to qualify for the semi-finals, while UAE progressed to the next stage.
NEPAL VS CANADA – Nepal won by 8 wickets
Canada won the toss and elected to bat first against Nepal with the stakes high with a place in the semis up for grabs. They could not make the most of the coin landing in their favour, struggling against the Nepal bowlers. Only Rayyan Pathan (14), skipper Navneet Dhaliwal (18) and Dilon Heyliger (24*) could make contributions in double-digits. If it weren't for Heyliger's determined knock at the end, Canada could have ended with a much lower total. They were all at sea against Nepal, especially the tricky leg-spin of Sandeep Lamichhane who ended up with figures of 3/12 in his four overs. Canada could only bat out 15 out of their 20 overs, ending up with a total of 80 which was under-par. A big effort would now be required from their bowlers to make a match out of this contest.
Chasing the score down, Kushal Bhurtel again starred with the bat, carrying on his sizzling form from the second contest. This time around though, his knock was much more serene in nature as he anchored through the chase in a 37-ball 34*. There were some hiccups during the chase as Nepal lost Aasif Sheikh (17) and then Kushal Malla immediately for a duck. But Dipendra Singh Airee (27*) joined forces with Bhurtel and steered home the chase in 14.1 overs. With the win, Nepal finished top of Group 1 with three victories in three matches as Canada faced heartbreak, failing to qualify for the semis.
OMAN VS PHILIPPINES – Oman won by 9 wickets
Philippines won the toss and elected to bat first against an Oman side desperate for a win. Oman then produced a scintillating display with the ball, skittling out their opponents for a mere 36 runs. None of the Philippines batters managed to post a double-figure score as the Oman bowlers ran rampant. Kaleemullah started the onslaught with the wicket of Daniel Smith for 7 and the proceedings began from there. All the Oman bowlers except Bilal Khan got into the wickets column with Smith's 7 being the highest score for Philippines. Khawar Ali was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/11 in 3.2 overs.
Oman then chased the score down without breaking a sweat. There was a silver lining for Philippines though as Huzaifa Mohammed got the scalp of opener Kashyap Pajapati who was dismissed for 4. Jatinder Singh (3*) could only watch on from the other end as Khurram Nawaz walked out and unleashed a flurry of strokes. He hit five fours and two sixes racing away to 33* in only 12 deliveries as Oman chased the target down in only 2.5 overs.
With the win, Oman qualified for the semi-finals, finishing second in Group 1 with 4 points in three matches and an NRR of +1.650.
Watch every match of the #T20WorldCup Qualifier A LIVE on FanCode (in the subcontinent), Himalaya TV (in Nepal) and ICC.tv (rest of the world).
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