Scotland sealed their spot in the next stage of the T20 World Cup on a momentous night for Kyle Coetzer’s side as they beat tournament co-hosts Oman by eight wickets to finish top of their group.
Despite two opening wins, Scotland knew they had to avoid defeat on Thursday following Bangladesh’s win over Papua New Guinea, owing to Bangladesh and Oman having superior net run-rates.
But Coetzer fittingly returned to form after scores of nought and six in recent days with a fine 41 from 28 balls as Scotland negotiated a potentially tricky chase of 123 on a sluggish surface with 18 balls to spare. Coetzer’s dismissal meant the responsibility of getting Scotland over the line fell to Matt Cross (26 not out) and Richie Berrington (31 not out), who ended it with a swipe over midwicket for six.
Three wins take Scotland past the opening round of an International Cricket Council global event for the first time, and they can look forward to contests against sides such as India, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Had Oman won, they would have finished level on four points alongside Bangladesh and Scotland. That would have dashed Scotland’s hopes of reaching the Super 12 stage, but they were collectively excellent in Muscat.
Oman were restricted to 122 all out after winning the toss, with Aqib Ilyas top-scoring with 37 off 35 balls, having earlier contributed to opening partner Jatinder Singh’s run-out. But Josh Davey took three for 25, all of his wickets coming in the last over, Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask took two wickets each.
Coetzer and George Munsey were watchful early into the reply before starting to find the boundary rope, the latter hitting four fours in his 20 from 19 balls before slapping to backward square-leg. Coetzer, though, was into his stride and clattered each of Zeeshan Maqsood, Fayyaz Butt and Mohammad Nadeem for six to ultimately take Scotland well ahead of the game before being bowled off his pads by leg-spinner Khawar Ali.
The downfall of the Scotland captain left them needing only 48, ensuring Cross and Berrington could eschew risk, which they did as they settled for some hard running over the next three overs.
Berrington, who struck 70 off 49 balls in Tuesday’s win over Papua New Guinea, cast off the shackles with a couple of sixes in Khawar’s final over, taking Scotland past 100 and ensuring there would be no late twist.
Oman had got off to a false start when their leading T20 run-scorer Jatinder Singh tried to pinch a single from his first ball, only to be run out after Aqib refused to budge at the other end, allowing Cross to whip off the bails. Later in the over, Aqib flicked Brad Wheal for six and continued to favour the leg side as he made up the bulk of the scoring in the first half of the innings.
Nadeem’s third ball went the distance after Wheal was brought back, but the Omani batter perished for 25 attempting to take down slow left-armer Mark Watt for a second successive six and from 79 for four the co-hosts struggled. Zeeshan contributed a useful 34 from 30 deliveries to ensure Oman passed 100, but the skipper was the first of the final three wickets to fall in four balls in a chaotic last over.
Meanwhile, Shakib al-Hasan’s all-round class propelled Bangladesh to a crushing 84-run victory over Papua New Guinea and into the Super 12 stage. Shakib hit 46 as the Tigers posted 181 for seven in their must-win group clash against the tournament first-timers, then four for nine from his four overs of off-spin.
At one stage PNG were 29 for seven – still 10 adrift of Holland’s record low in the competition. Kiplin Doriga single-handedly spared them that fate and gave the reply a sheen of credibility, counterattacking with an unbeaten 46, but they were all out for 97 in the last over of the match.
Bangladesh opener Mohammad Naim was bowled for a duck off the second ball of the match by Kabua Morea, but that was as good as it got for the underdogs. Shakib put on a half-century stand with Liton Das (29) before captain Mahmudullah dominated the second half of the innings with a 28-ball 50.
The PNG top seven folded in quick time as Shakib worked his magic, with Hiri Hiri the top-scorer on just eight, before Doriga fought back with a series of clean hits. He was left unbeaten in sight of his 50 when Taskin Ahmed wrapped things up in the 20th over.