Bulawayo: The UAE suffered their second consecutive defeat in the World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday with a loss to Oman by five wickets. Oman, who surprised Ireland in the opening match, boosted their hopes of making it to the Super Six with this win.
A fine effort with the ball, after electing to field first, put Oman in a strong position as they restricted the UAE to 227 for eight from their 50 overs.
A trio of half-centuries, including a second in a row from Aqib Ilyas, were then enough to see Oman home with four overs to spare despite a shaky start.
Jay Odedra (3/31) was the star of the show with the ball, bowling Ramez Shahzad (38) and Vriitya Aravind (49) in quick succession after their 87-run stand for the third wicket.
He added Ali Naseer to bring Aayan Afzal Khan to the wicket, with the 17-year-old giving his side a chance with a crucial knock.
Aayan hit 10 fours on his way to an unbeaten 58 from just 52 deliveries, adding 40 with Karthik Meiyappan and 33 with Zahoor Khan.
Needing 228 to win, Oman lost both openers to Junaid Siddique (2/31), Kashyap Prajapati first to go for six with Jatinder Singh (2) soon following.
That brought Aqib and Shoaib Khan together, the pair adding exactly 100 before Rohan Mustafa got through the defences of Aqib on 53.
Shoaib then left the field with cramps, before Zeeshan Maqsood was LBW to Rohan for one as the chase started to falter.
However, a 76-run stand between Mohammad Nadeem (50 not out) and Ayaan Khan (41) steadied the ship before Shoaib returned to see the team home and bring up his half-century, finishing 52 not out.
Meanwhile, Michael Leask smashed a brilliant 91 not out to lead Scotland to a dramatic one-wicket victory over Ireland from the final ball.
Scotland were reeling at 152-7 in the 34th over, chasing 287 to win in Bulawayo, but Leask struck 91 from 61 balls to clinch a win to start their campaign.
Ireland, though, are on the brink of failing to reach a second straight World Cup after suffering a second successive Group B defeat after their opening loss to Oman.
Two teams from the 10-nation event in Zimbabwe will qualify for the main tournament to be held in India in October and November.
“We’ve had a few tough games against Ireland, so to get this against them is even more special,” said Leask, who was part of the side beaten by Ireland in the last World Cup Qualifier five years ago.
“We’ve got a great bunch of lads and this is just the start of our journey. This is how we’ll play our cricket, we’ll take things deep.”
Scotland are hoping to right the wrongs of the previous qualifying tournament in 2018, when they missed out on the World Cup in England and Wales as a controversial lbw decision and untimely rain saw them slip to an agonising defeat by the West Indies.
Ireland also failed to qualify on that occasion, having reached the three previous World Cups.
“The first 10 overs when we were batting and the last 10 overs when we were bowling took the game away from us,” said Irish captain Andy Balbirnie.
“We’ll lick our wounds here and go again next game.”
Wednesday’s action comes from Group A, where the Netherlands take on the USA in a match neither team can afford to lose in Harare. Meanwhile, the Windies will be seeking a second win in as many matches against Nepal, who picked up a first win of their campaign against the US in their last encounter.