Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
The records continued to tumble for Oman's Aqib Ilyas, who tag-teamed with his captain Zeeshan Maqsood in a 216-run partnership as both men scored centuries in Oman's eighth straight win over USA.
By Peter Della Penna in Kathmandu, Nepal (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Oman batsman Aqib Ilyas continued to treat USA bowlers like a collection of voodoo dolls, scoring his second century against them in his last four innings, then took another three wickets in USA’s failed chase to cap a Man of the Match performance in Oman’s 92-run win over USA in the fifth ODI of the Cricket World Cup League Two tri-series at Tribhuvan University Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal.
For Ilyas, it was his second ODI ton in as many matches following his century against Nepal on Sunday. He took four wickets in the win over Nepal on Sunday too, making him one of just eight players to score a century and take three or more wickets in the same match multiple times in an ODI career. He also became just the third player to score multiple 50-over centuries against USA in a career, joining Freddie Klokker of Denmark and Leeward Islands allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall.
After Ilyas shared in an unbroken 167-run stand with captain Zeeshan Maqsood to close out the Nepal match, the pair added 216 for the third wicket against USA as Maqsood scored his maiden ODI ton. The result also extended Oman’s winning streak over USA in 50-over cricket to eight matches. USA has not beaten Oman since the final of 2016 WCL Division Four in Los Angeles.
USA won the toss and elected to bowl first once again, hoping to seize favorable conditions in the morning in spite of their continued struggles chasing against spin. They also made one change to the lineup, dropping Elmore Hutchinson in favor of left-arm spinning allrounder Nisarg Patel.
The opening attack of Rusty Theron and Saurabh Netravalkar were able to remove the opening par inside of 11 overs, containing Oman well at 31 for 2. Khawar Ali tickled a ball down the leg side for a catch to Akshay Homraj off Theron for 10 before Jatinder went cold off strike at the opposite end after two early boundaries and eventually mistimed a pull off Netravalkar to Aaron Jones at square leg for 9.
But from there, USA could find no answers for the better part of the next three hours in the field once Ilyas and Maqsood came together. Ilyas was the early aggressor, flaying a pair of boundaries over point early in his knock off of Netravalkar and Cameron Stevenson. But Maqsood revved up his innings against Karima Gore’s left-arm spin in the 25th. He started and ended the from charging Gore to drive him straight down the ground for a pair of sixes.
Ilyas brought up his half-century off 65 balls in the 28th with a single while Maqsood reached his fifty slightly quicker off 57 balls in the 31st. An opening was created to break the stand in the 35th when Ilyas set off for a suicide single into the covers but Homraj whiffed on his attempt to take the bails off while making an off balance collection from a low throw by Stevenson that would have had Maqsood out for 62.
Instead, the paid soldiered on and Maqsood rubbed salt into the wound by attacking Stevenson in a 20-run 37th, carting him for a six and three fours in the over to hit him out of the attack for the day with figures of 0 for 57 from seven overs. Ilyas also had a close shave on 71 when Nisarg induced an uncontrolled drive toward Jones at cover sweeper, but Jones opted not to put in a dive, drawing the ire of his teammates in the field. A six over midwicket off Theron a few overs later took Ilyas to 94.
Maqsood brought up his century off 103 balls with a single to short third man in the 45th off Ian Holland, then drove his fourth six the moment he got back on strike later in the over. Ilyas reached triple figures off 118 balls with a single to point, the last run in their epic 216-run partnership. On the very next ball, Maqsood drove Netravalkar flat to Steven Taylor at long-on aiming for his fifth six of the innings to fall for 109.
Naseem Khushi was promoted up the order for a late bash with 20 balls remaining, but he only managed 5 before top-edging a hook off Theron that resulted in another catch for Homraj, who covered 20 yards running backwards for an excellent over the shoulder take. Ilyas finally fell in the 49th, middling a reverse sweep off Netravalkar to Gore at backward point for the captain’s third wicket. Suraj Kumar was the last wicket to fall in a late flurry, pulling Theron to Stevenson at deep square leg in the final over as Oman ended on 276 for 6.
Netravalkar ended with solid figures of 3 for 37 in his 10 overs while Theron’s 3 for 60 were not exactly a fair reflection of his excellent opening and death spells. Holland finished with figures of 0 for 29 in six while Nisarg returned 0 for 37 in seven. Gore and Taylor were tame once more, returning 0 for 32 in six and 0 for 21 in four overs respectively.
USA reshuffled their lineup for the third match on tour, but it didn’t produce the desired results. Monank Patel was put back in the opening role he occupied for the last two months of 2019 but he lasted just four balls, cramped for room trying to cut Bilal Khan to give an edge behind without scoring to end the first over. Taylor’s equally miserable tour with the bat continued, spending half as many balls at the crease as Monank before he swatted a good length ball from Bilal to mid-on for a second-ball duck, making it 4 for 2 in the third.
Xavier Marshall got a decent start, reaching 23, but was unable to convert as he was dismissed lbw once again with a full delivery, this time from Mohammad Nadeem to make it 39 for 3 in 11 overs. Holland stabilized the innings somewhat heading into the drinks break at 63 for 3 in 15 overs. But USA’s best batsman on tour fell on the first ball after play resumed, bowled playing over the top of a leg-side flick to Maqsood’s first ball of left-arm spin. Homraj then lasted 11 balls before playing back to a skiddy delivery on a good length from Maqsood and was bowled for 7 to make it 79 for 5.
Nisarg joined Jones and commenced a thrilling counterattack that not only brought USA back into the match, but arguably put them well in front. A pair of drives through the off side produced boundaries for his first two scoring shots before he drove Khawar Ali’s legspin straight down the ground for six. Badal Singh’s left-arm spin was swatted over wide long-on for six, then driven again over long-off two balls later for six more in the 23rd as he raced to 30 off 14 balls. Another six off Maqsood straight down the ground in the 26th took him to 41 before back-to-back pulls over midwicket off Kaleemullah and Bilal in the 29th and 30th raised USA’s fastest ever ODI half-century off just 32 balls, taking the score to 149 for 5 after 30. It meant USA had a very manageable 128 to win off the final 120 balls.
Nisarg’s blazing knock came to an end with the intervention of Ilyas in the 31st though. The allrounder’s golden arm struck on the first ball as a half-tracker was slogged too flat to Badal at long-on to send Nisarg off for 52, ending a 70-run stand with Jones.
Though Jones looked a bit more comfortable in his usual middle-order role as opposed to the failed opening experiment from the first two matches, he failed to accelerate at any point in his innings, particularly after Nisarg got out. It resulted in slogging at the other end as Gore skied an attempted heave off Ilyas in the 35th in which sub fielder Mohammad Sanuth took a sharp over the shoulder catch running back from the ring at backward point.
Jones was at fault two overs later when he was caught ball-watching on what should have been a very easy single to mid-on for Stevenson. Badal relayed to Ilyas over the bowler’s stumps, who still had plenty of time to fire a direct hit at the striker’s end with Stevenson a yard short for 4. Theron heaved three boundaries before he was caught at deep midwicket for 12 off Ilyas to end the 39th. Netravalkar was then bowled on the first ball of the 40th by Bilal, leaving Jones stranded on 47.
Bilal ended with figures of 3 for 24 while Ilyas ended with 3 for 14 in his five overs. Nadeem ended with 1 for 34 in six while Maqsood claimed 2 for 33 in his eight overs.
USA comes back on Wednesday with one more attempt to claim a win before getting on the plane to go home. Their final match of the tri-series against Nepal begins at 9:30 am local time.