Cricket

Stirling 71, Simi


Ireland 159 for 5 (Stirling 71, Balbirnie 34, Fayyaz 4-19) beat Oman 144 for 9 (Nadeem 25, Fayyaz 25*, Little 2-24, Dockrell 2-20, Simi Singh 3-15) by 15 runs

Offspinning allrounder Simi Singh derailed Oman’s chase of Ireland’s 159 with three wickets in the space of five balls in the 10th over as Ireland ended their five-match T20I winless streak with a 15-run win over the tournament hosts in the T20I Quadrangular Series at Oman Cricket Academy.

Oman were in command at 73 for 3 needing less than eight per over with Aamir Kaleem on 21 when Simi struck thrice in his second over. A change in the field to open up the leg side boundary behind square was enough to tempt Kaleem to shuffle across his stumps, resulting in a missed scoop to be bowled behind his legs. Mehran Khan then drove his first ball straight back to Simi and after two singles, Oman captain Ajay Lalcheta missed a sweep to be given leg before as Oman ended the 10th over at 76 for 6.

The hosts never recovered as Joshua Little bowled a superb death spell to finish with 2 for 24 in his four overs, denting Oman further. With 24 needed off the final over and one wicket remaining, Peter Chase conceded just eight runs to close out Ireland’s win.

Oman paid dearly for a sloppy fielding performance in which they dropped six chances and arguably missed out on two others as well. Ireland stand-in captain Paul Stirling and his opening partner Kevin O’Brien were the biggest benefactors. O’Brien was dropped off successive balls on 0 and 1 before torching Kaleem’s first over of left-arm spin in the fifth for 18 runs. He eventually fell skying a pull to Lalcheta at midwicket in the circle off Fayyaz Butt.

Butt should have had Stirling later in the over for 26 with another short ball plan that was executed to near perfection. Stirling cooperated by pulling the delivery straight to deep square leg, but Jay Odedra spilled the chance at chest height.

Stirling went on to add 78 with Andy Balbirnie for the second wicket as a result. Along the way, he peppered the square boundaries on both sides of the wicket with an array of cuts and pulls, ending with 11 fours and a six before he fell driving Butt to long-on at the start of the 16th.

By that stage, the damage was mostly done but Oman’s fielders continued to undermine their bowlers as Lorcan Tucker was dropped on 4 at midwicket by Lalcheta on a gentle chance. He went on to make an unbeaten 22, including a pair of key boundaries in the 19th over to take Ireland past the 150 mark. In spite of a decent start to the chase, Simi’s triple-strike ensured Stirling’s efforts were not wasted.



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