Oman's World Cup 2011 prospects received a boost with a convincing win in the ACC Trophy Challenge 2009. Oman beat Bhutan by 213 runs in the Final at Prem Oval. "We got better throughout the tournament, all the team contributed and it sets us up for our big matches later in the year," said winning captain and Player of the Tournament Hemal Mehta.

Hemal Mehta

Bhutan's was a strange decision on winning the toss, to put Oman in to bat, because on this relatively warm morning, the wicket didn't have any dew on it and the drier the Prem wicket is, the more it turns as the match progresses and Bhutan don’t play spin at all well. Flat as Prem always is, batting second wasn't going to be easy. But really, Bhutan's novitiates were always going to be struggling against Oman's seasoned campaigners whatever the state of the wicket. Oman have got proper batsmen and proper bowlers, only on fielding did Bhutan and Maldives better them in this tournament.

Oman stroked the ball around the ground from the start, with Maqsood Hussain smashing them for as long as he was in. He hit his third ball for 6, his second 4 was driven on the up one bounce over the long-off boundary and next ball, now with a man put back, Thinley Jamtsho bowled the same full-length aiming at off-stump. Maqsood hit the same aerial drive, but this time Jigme Singye, jumping, took the catch on the boundary. Maqsood has scored 76 runs in this tournament, 72 of them in boundaries.

Maqsood Hussain, going for his second 6 caught by Jigme Singye in the second over

Next over Adnan Ilyas was missed by the keeper off Lobzang Yonten. It proved to be a big miss. "We were waiting for the mistakes," said Bhutan's coach Damber Singh Gurung in the interval, "but we made them."

Oman's 50 came in the sixth over, Adnan Ilyas going great guns for his 50 off 38 balls (9 fours) made sure the momentum was maintained and the 100 came up in the 14th over.

Leg-spinner Jigme Singye had left-hander Vaibhav in front, but Qaim Hussain pulled his first ball through mid-wicket for four. Murderers Row this Omani lineup is.

Dilip Subba finished a tight-spell (10-1-37-1) but it was penetration Bhutan needed, Oman's batsmen without taking any risks able to score at a run-a-ball overall.

Adnan's 100 came in 95 balls with an exquisite cover-drive, his sixteenth 4 (to go along with his two 6s). He ran well for his partners throughout too, and after that miss early on played just one more false stroke when on 112, slicing Jigme high to extra cover, where Tshering Dorji running backwards just got a fingertip to the chance.

Adnan Ilyas watches his score mount

Sultan Ahmed was caught by leg-spinner Dampo off his own bowling, the ball just holding up on the surface and that, along with the bounce available to the Bhutani fast bowlers Thinley, Phuntsho and Lobzang had the Omani bowlers salivating in the tent as they envisaged getting maximum value for their efforts with the ball.

Oman's batsmen took them to 322.

Realistically, Bhutan knew going in they didn't have a chance. They had made the Final of this year's ACC Trophy Challenge, qualified for the ACC Trophy Elite and that was their victory this tournament.

Oman's bowlers on this wicket would be very hard to get away. Bhutan lost three wickets early and had Bowler of the Tournament Farhan Khan been able to attack the stumps more often surely they'd have lost more. Four slips and a gully were waiting but too many balls sailed wide off of-stump unmolested. Kumar Subba and Jigme Singye played well for their 4th-wicket partnership. Kumar Subba had been in from the start but struggled to get the ball away, his first 75 balls yielded just two boundaries. The required run-rate at the half-way stage, with Bhutan on 65 for 4 was over 10 an over. Academic really, and even as good as the young Bhutanese might be at school, well beyond their reach.

Farhan Khan bowls to Jigme Singye

Jigme Singye was caught off one tossed up a bit wider, and a good catch was taken by Awal Khan at slip. Hemal Mehta claimed two in two four overs later, the hat-trick averted with a forward-prod from Tandin Wangchuk.

Kumar Subba's doughty innings of 40 was ended by an extra bit of pace from Awal Khan and though the tail-enders stayed around a while, Oman wrapped up victory at the start of the 43rd over.

Bhutan have made it to the Final of every ACC Challenge group tournament they've played in the past two seasons, bar the Under-17s, but have won none, beaten each time by Middle Eastern countries. "The team are quite the same in all the competitions, we don't have many players and we have very little chance to practice in the conditions at home. Once these players mature a bit more, get match-awareness and the youngsters coming up start pushing them, Bhutan will also do well in the Elite Groups," says their coach Damber Singh Gurung.

Oman may have won the Challenge but Bhutan were up to it too.

Bhutan v Oman at Prem Oval
Bhutan won the toss and elected to field
Oman: 322 for 9 after 50 overs (A.Ilyas 138, A.Khan 32*)
Bhutan: 104 off 40 overs (K.Subba 40; A.Khan 3-27, H.Mehta 3-22)
Man of the Match: Adnan Ilyas (Oman)


ACC Trophy Challenge 2009

Pictures by Danny Bowes

Filed January 21, 2009