Day 1 Talking points: Scotland’s second-gamer inspires first upset
Maqsood’s triple-strike, Oman’s new-ball pair, and Chris Greaves’ exploits are the highlights of the opening day of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
Bangladesh vs Scotland
Group B thrown open
After series victories over Australia and New Zealand at home, the many who had pencilled Bangladesh in for top spot in Group B likely felt vindicated after Calum MacLeod was dismissed to leave Scotland 53/6 into the 12th over. Fast-forward 90 minutes, the early reactions may have looked a little premature.
Against all the talk of Oman, Scotland and Papua New Guinea fighting for second spot, it’s now the Tigers forced to play catch-up. Facing a red-hot Oman on Tuesday who have their eyes in after a ten-wicket win over Papua New Guinea, Mahmud Ullah’s men must make timely adjustments in order to progress.
At home and with a healthy net run rate Oman will like their chances and possess the capabilities to overshadow their Full Member rivals, who could make adjustments to beef up the batting stocks. Mohammad Naim, left out in the defeat to Scotland, may find his name on the team sheet.
Perhaps in a nod to the overall quality of the group, Scotland’s celebrations despite the come-from-behind victory, were a little subdued. Facing Papua New Guinea in their next match, the Scots were only 4-run winners when the teams met at the 2019 Qualifier, and will need to be at close to their best.
Chris Greaves dominates in spite of international inexperience
Lauded for his versatility on the Scotland domestic circuit, Chris Greaves’ performance in just his second T20I quashed any thoughts of the leg-spinning all-rounder being overawed by the spotlight of the big stage.
Coming in with his side in a hole at 52/5 with less than half the innings left, and losing MacLeod next over, Greaves put on a partnership of 51 with Mark Watt (22 from 17 balls). Making 45 (28) in a rescue mission with the bat, doing so largely with the tail, Greaves was then entrusted with the 14th, 16th and 18th overs with the ball, and did not let captain Kyle Coetzer down in a spell of 2/19 to put his team into the ascendancy.
For Coetzer, having the newest member of the team contribute in such a desperate situation suggests his chargers are well-prepared for any World Cup challenge, though for Greaves, even he was taken aback by his starring role speaking after the match.
“We were in a tough situation obviously. It was just a rebuild innings at that stage, and (to) see where we go from there.
“It was unbelievable that I could be that person to really be a part of that.”
Oman’s fiery new-ball pair
Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah showed just why they are considered one of the most dangerous new-ball pairs in Associate cricket, striking in their very first overs without a run on the board for PNG.
Bilal, who was the leading wicket-taker during the 2019 Qualifiers, got good shape in to the opener Tony Ura, who edged onto his stumps in the fourth ball of the day.
Next over, Kaleemullah teased Lega Siaka with a couple of away-swingers before sending one in shorter and straighter. The opener, who was uncomfortable with his footwork, chopped on, and the middle stump went flying.
Bilal, who was touching speeds of 125kph-plus, was a handful with his pace, while Kaleemullah’s back-of-the-hand slower one proved a handy change-up.
Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood had said before the game that he himself would be one of the players to watch on his side – and he showed just why! Maqsood’s left-arm spin denied PNG a chance to accelerate in the final overs, with his second over of the day, the 16th of PNG’s innings, completely turning the game.
In his first over, the skipper had gone for 11 runs, but he brought himself back after a break. On the first ball of the over, the turn foxed Norman Vanua and he was bowled. Sese Bau tried to reverse sweep on the third ball, but found the fielder. Kiplin Doriga then edged to point.
Collecting his Player of the Match award, Maqsood said: “I just try to keep it tight and not give away loose ones.”
Later, he added, “After my first over … I never thought I would bowl again. But certainly the message from my coach and a few senior players, they insisted I bowl, to change [a few things] and bowl, and it worked.”
Jatinder Singh’s record for Oman
Jatinder Singh’s unbeaten 73 off 42 balls is the highest individual score by a batter in T20Is for Oman.
His innings included seven fours and four sixes, including the final one that sealed victory for the home side.
He was prolific all around the ground, good with the pull and the sweep. Having kept pace with his new opening partner Aqib Ilyas for the most part, he made the most of some loose bowling in the latter part of his innings to quickly knock off the runs in the chase.
Having taken some crucial catches earlier, it marked an all-round good day for him.
“Jati is a main player for us and you could say a backbone for the team,” said Maqsood. “If he performs … definitely the whole system automatically goes up and motivates us. He’s that person who can do it for us, and he’s always doing it.”
(Source and courtesy: https://www.t20worldcup.com/)