A pair of half-centuries from Aaron Jones and Steven Taylor were not enough to get USA across the line as the hosts failed to secure victory for the second day in a row in Texas.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Pearland, Texas (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Less than 24 hours after USA’s first tie in their ODI history, they fell short of the finish line once again in a chase that seemed within reach as Oman’s top-class death bowling staved off USA’s middle and lower order to preserve a 13-run win over the hosts in the 10th ODI at Moosa Stadium in Pearland, Texas as part of ICC Cricket World Cup League Two on Sunday.
Set a target of 281, USA looked well on course at 127 for 2 after 23 overs as Steven Taylor and Aaron Jones forged ahead during a century partnership. But the spin trio of Nestor Dhamba, Ayaan Khan and Zeeshan Maqsood tied down USA over the next 10 overs during a period in which USA scored just 26 runs and lost Taylor and Gajanand Singh. From there, USA could not regain momentum as the required run rate climbing before Jones finally fell for 97 to Maqsood in the 44th over to snuff out USA’s last genuine chance of rallying back.
USA’s chances looked bleak early on in the chase after Sushant Modani fell for a golden duck in the first over to a gem that nipped back from Kaleemullah to clip the top of middle stump. Monank Patel fell in the sixth to Bilal Khan, trapped by a full inswinger in front of leg stump for 6 to make it 22 for 2.
But USA showed their resiliency as Taylor continued his outstanding weekend with the bat to put the hosts back into a solid position, albeit with a little help from some sloppy Oman fielding. The left-handed opener struck a slog sweep for his fourth boundary of the Powerplay courtesy of a straightforward drop by Shoaib Khan at midwicket on 24 off the bowling of offspinner Dhamba to take USA to 51 for 2 after the first 10. A short time later, Jones also experienced a measure of good fortune as once again Shoaib was to blame for another shelled chance at deep square leg, this time off Fayyaz Butt, whose short ball trap sucked Jones into a pull on 16 that clanged off Shoaib’s hands.
Taylor brought up his half-century off 51 balls in the 17th with close shave at mid-on as a loose drive off Fayyaz Butt’s medium pace skidded just under Khawar Ali’s lunging effort on the ring before going on to the rope for four. He continued attacking Dhamba upon his reintroduction to the attack for a second spell, driving him over the sightscreen at the Pearland End to move to 70.
But Maqsood’s superb day with the ball turned momentum back toward the visitors, first with a maiden to Taylor in the 24th which created the pressure for Dhamba to finally dismiss Taylor in the following over for 25, where this time Shoaib finally held on to a chance on the long-on boundary for 79 to end a 108-run partnership. USA could not find anything better than a single over the next five overs as Gajanand’s attempt to play a reverse sweep to Maqsood as a pressure release shot backfired as the ball caromed off the inside of his elbow back into his ribs before dribbling gently into the stumps with just enough force to dislodge the bails.
Nisarg Patel joined Jones and the pair tried to right the ship for USA with an 81-run partnership Jones, who started off with three quick boundaries during the Powerplay upon his arrival, slowed down dramatically over the course of his partnerships with Taylor and Gajanand before being spurred back out of his shell while batting alongside Nisarg. He took a single in the 33rd to reach his half-century off 77 balls, after which he signaled to the dressing room for a change of bat. The new lumber brought about quicker scoring from Jones, who scored 47 off his next 33 balls, including five fours and a six off a slog sweep over the leg side rope as USA needed 60 off the final seven overs.
It was then that Oman asserted their death bowling dominance behind Maqsood and Bilal. Operating from the Massey Ranch End, Maqsood induced a leading edge for a simple return catch at head height to deny Jones a century. Nisarg fell in the following over for 37. One ball after driving Bilal for six over mid-off, he was knocked over by a reverse swinging yorker that crashed into leg stump. Maqsood continued the wicket parade in the 45th, getting Cam Stevenson to top edge a heave across the line that was well held by Bilal taking an over the shoulder catch running back from square leg in the ring for 2. Yasir Mohammad’s maiden ODI innings was ended with another yorker from Bilal for 3 in the 47th before Saurabh Netravalkar slogged Maqsood into the wind to give a simple catch to Prajapati 10 yards inside the ring at long-off for 6 to complete a collapse of 21 for 5 as USA went from 224 for 4 to 245 for 9.
Nosthush Kenjige and Rusty Theron dragged the match into the final over with 26 needed to win and Kenjige on strike facing Fayyaz. He began it by nearly hitting a six through the wind over long-on that was turned into two by a spectacular leaping effort from Dhamba whose one-handed slap while falling over the rope saved four runs. Kenjige cleared mid-off on the next ball for a boundary but with 20 off four needed, a dot ball to backward point effectively clinched victory for Oman. Kenjige ended unbeaten for the third innings in a row contributing 22 not out off 15 balls while Theron ended 4 not out off five.
Maqsood finished with 4 for 39 in his 10 overs while Bilal claimed 3 for 56 in 10 to increase his substantial lead as the leading wicket-taker in ICC Cricket World Cup League Two. Dhamba took 1 for 48 in eight overs while Kaleemullah never returned after a new ball spell which claimed 1 for 24 in five overs.
Oman’s total was set up by Prajapati’s career-best for Oman after the visitors had won the toss and chosen to bat first on a day when USA rested Ali Khan and also left out Rahul Jariwala in favor of Kenjige and Stevenson on a day when temperatures hovered around 99F for the second day in a row.
USA’s bowlers struggled playing their second match in less than 36 hours in extreme heat as Oman started the match with a pair of century partnerships. The first could have been nipped in the bud in the fifth over when Jatinder’s top-edged pull on 15 off Netravalkar swirled toward Theron at deep backward square leg. But battling a fierce wind, Theron overran the ball coming in off the rope as the wind continued to carry it toward the eastern boundary. Despite a late readjustment, Theron’s attempt to reach back across his body failed to hold onto the chance with the score on 25 for 0.
USA toiled for the next hour until Kenjige provided the first breakthrough in the 24th. The left-arm spinner built up pressure in his first two overs, conceding just a single in each before a charge down the pitch from Jatinder resulted in a sliced drive that ballooned over cover where Jones ran back from the ring for a superb over the shoulder diving catch to dismiss the opener for 66 and end the stand with Prajapati at 106. But there was little respite coming from the arrival of Shoaib, who teamed with Prajapati for a 108-run partnership.
Prajapati brought up his fifty off 65 balls with a six driven straight down the ground off Kenjige in the 28th and the pair coasted along to reach 210 for 1 at the final drinks break taken after 41 overs. Shoaib had reached his second half-century of the tour in the over with a single but the interval triggered a lapse in concentration as he fell moments after play resumed, playing back to Theron and trapped in front for 51.
Prajapati milked singles through the 90s before a two through the off side brought up his century off 112 balls in the 46th over. He fell one over later to Netravalkar, top-edging a knee high full toss over the pitch where Netravalkar claimed a return catch to end a match-winning knock at 243 for 3 with 23 balls left. But Maqsood turned back the clock to the dashing days of his youth as Oman added 38 runs the rest of the way with the bulk of them coming from the captain. He was especially harsh to Netravalkar during a 16-run 49th, driving him over wide long-off for six before a reverse over short third man for four. He fell to Stevenson two balls into the 50th, driving to Nisarg at extra cover for 35 off 25. Kaleemullah still managed to get eight off the bat for the remainder of the over to push Oman to a total that was just enough in the end.
Kenjige ended with USA’s best figures on the day taking 1 for 41 in 10. Netravalkar contributed a solid 1 for 47 in 10. Theron finished with 1 for 46 in six while Stevenson claimed 1 for 57 in eight. The rest of USA’s spinners were mostly ineffective though Nisarg finished with 0 for 49 in 10 while Taylor and Mohammad were only given three overs each to end with 0 for 16 and 0 for 21 respectively.
All teams have a day off on Monday before play resumes in the ODI tri-series on Tuesday when Nepal and Oman face off. USA and Nepal end the ODI tri-series on Wednesday at Moosa Stadium.