Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Aqib Ilyas spearheads the list of five Oman players as well as six Nepal representatives to make up the best XI from the six-match tri-series played at Tribhuvan University Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal.
By Peter Della Penna in Kathmandu (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
1. Khawar Ali (Oman)
– In a series where few openers fared well, Khawar scored 87 runs in his four innings, the most of any on tour. However, he played a stabilizing role on a pair of occasions, pairing with Aqib Ilyas in a 66-run stand in the first win over USA, then shared in a 49-run opening stand with Jatinder Singh to see off the new ball and set the table for the 167-run unbroken third-wicket stand shared by Zeeshan Maqsood and Aqib Ilyas to finish off Nepal in Oman’s last match.
2. Gyanendra Malla (Nepal)
– The Nepal captain was the second highest scorer among opening batsmen on tour, making 79 runs in his four innings. But he was the only one to notch a half-century, scoring 56 in an excellent burst against Oman to help set a stiff target that was ultimately overhauled.
3. Aqib Ilyas (Oman)
– Hands down the man of the series. Led all batsmen with 302 runs including two centuries and a half-century. If that wasn’t enough he also took 10 wickets. Along the way he became one of just seven players in ODI history to score a century and take three or more wickets in the same match multiple times, doing it in back-to-back games against Nepal and USA. He’s still only 27 so he may be terrorizing teams for another decade yet.
4. Zeeshan Maqsood (Oman, captain)
– Finished right behind Ilyas with 208 runs in the series including a century and a half-century during a pair of epic partnerships with Ilyas. He also took seven wickets with his left-arm spin. The captain read conditions better than anyone all week both at the crease and in the field, always seeming to make the right moves when it came to making bowling changes.
5. Mohammad Nadeem (Oman)
– A frontrunner for man of the series after sweeping a pair of Man of the Match awards on the first two days only to be leapfrogged later by Ilyas, Nadeem gets the nod over USA’s Ian Holland for the No. 5 allrounder slot. The 37-year-old produced a pair of unbeaten half-centuries, 69 against Nepal and 55 against the USA, and also took eight wickets on the week with his medium pace. The only reason he didn’t score more runs is because Ilyas and Maqsood refused to get out in the last two matches.
6. Kushal Malla (Nepal)
– The 15-year-old debutant had a major impact on Nepal’s winning performance over USA. With the host side struggling at 49 for 5, the teenager was fearless in his counter-attack to strike 50 off 51 balls before following it up with a spell of 1 for 30. In the next match against Oman, he made a brisk 28 and then took 1 for 29. He didn’t show up on the scorecard in the last match against USA because Nepal only used three bowlers and four batsmen.
7. Binod Bhandari (Nepal, wk)
– The Nepal keeper teamed with Kushal in that momentum-shifting 84-run partnership against USA, eventually finishing with 59 in the match. He was fairly consistent with the bat all week, ending with 120 runs at an average of 40. With the gloves, he was very tidy, effecting seven dismissals on the week.
8. Karan KC (Nepal)
– The burgeoning allrounder was instrumental in the first two matches for Nepal, claiming four wickets on each occasion. The latter haul earned him Man of the Match honors after he effectively clinched victory with the late dismissal of Ian Holland having earlier wiped out USA’s top order.
9. Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal)
– The champion leggie had barren returns in the two matches against Oman but took eight wickets overall. He’ll forever be remembered though for his 6 for 16 against USA in a record-setting blowout.
10. Sushan Bhari (Nepal)
– The leading wicket-taker in the entire series with 11 at an average of 9.36, he was far more than just a foil for Lamichhhane and was exceptionally consistent. His career-best 4 for 5 flew under the radar of Lamichhane’s six-wicket haul against USA but was no less impactful.
11. Bilal Khan (Oman)
– The left-arm quick was on the loose with the new ball throughout the series. His seven wickets might appear modest for his standards, but he was generally consistent in his spells. He took five wickets in two matches against the USA and took a pair in the opener against Nepal, only going wicketless against Nepal in the third of four matches but was still economical returning 0 for 39. But batsmen found him a handful throughout and he provided excellent balance in Oman’s attack, ripping out early wickets before the spinners took over later on.