World Cup Qualifiers 2023, Day 4 Round up: Scotland end Ireland's hopes with thrilling victory, Oman make it two in two
With a loss, Ireland are virtually out of the race.
Michael Leask held his nerve to complete an unlikely comeback for Scotland as they kicked off their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 campaign with a bang while Oman made it two from two.
Ireland, beaten by Oman in their opener, looked set to bounce back only for Leask to steer Scotland to a one-wicket victory off the final ball in Bulawayo.
In the other Group B match, Aqib Ilyas’ second successive half-century steered Oman to victory over the United Arab Emirates to boost their hopes of making the Super Six.
Leask snatches dramatic win for Scotland
Michael Leask hit two off the final ball as Scotland stunned Ireland with a one-wicket victory at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Curtis Campher looked as he would be the hero of the day, coming to the crease with Ireland reeling at 33 for four before rattling off a vital century to help Ireland post a total of 286 for eight.
That looked like plenty when Scotland slumped to 152 for seven in reply, before Leask turned the tide.
Having lost their opener to Oman, Ireland looked in a world of trouble when Paul Stirling and skipper Andy Balbirnie fell for golden ducks off the second and third balls of the innings.
Brandon McMullen wreaked havoc with the new ball on his way to figures of five for 34, his first-ever ODI five-for.
Andy McBrine (32) and Campher set about rebuilding after Ireland’s terrible start, but when the opener was caught behind, they were still in strife at 70 for five.
George Dockrell came in and provided invaluable support however, the pair adding 136 for the sixth wicket before Dockrell was bowled by the returning McMullen for 69.
By that stage, Campher had found his groove and he used support from the tailenders, notably Gareth Delany (19) to push Ireland to 286 for eight, Campher the last man to go off the penultimate delivery for a brilliant 120.
Scotland made a good start in reply, despite losing Matthew Cross in the second over, as Chris McBride (56) added 50 with McMullen (10) and 34 with George Munsey (15) before falling LBW to Campher.
The wickets continued to tumble, Josh Little (2/73) getting Richie Berrington and Tomas Mackintosh to reduce Scotland to 122 for six.
Chris Greaves followed soon after but Leask (91 not out) and Mark Watt counter-attacked with 82 from 11.1 overs to keep the chase alive before the latter was stumped off Dockrell for 47.
Leask then took over, adding 51 with Safyaan Sharif to leave Scotland needing eight from the last over. A four off the first ball made the equation simpler but Leask then took a single, allowing Mark Adair to pounce and remove Sharif for six.
That brought last man Chris Sole to the crease, and after a dot, he scrambled a bye to get Leask back on strike needing two from the final delivery.
He got that and more, with an inside edge racing to the boundary to see Scotland to an unlikely victory and further dent Ireland’s hopes of making the Super Six.
Oman coast to second victory
Two days on from the momentous chase against Ireland, Oman did it again in Bulawayo, easing to a five-wicket win against the UAE.
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.
Last-chance saloon for USA against the Netherlands
Thursday’s action comes from Group A, where the Netherlands take on the USA in a match neither team can afford to lose in Harare.
The US lost to Nepal last time out, two days after an opening defeat to the West Indies, meaning this clash with the Dutch is huge for their hopes of reaching the Super Six.
The Netherlands batted well against Zimbabwe but could not back that up with the ball in their opening fixture, but a win against the US at the Takashinga Cricket Club would get them back on track.
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.
A win for the Windies would put them in a commanding position, while Nepal can give themselves a real opportunity of reaching the Super Six with an upset at the Harare Sports Club.
Scores in brief
Scotland beat Ireland at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo by one wicket
Ireland 286/8 in 50 overs (Curtis Campher 120, George Dockrell 69; Brandon McMullen 5/34, Christopher McBride 1/24)
Scotland 289/9 in 50 overs (Michael Leask 91*, Chris McBride 56; Mark Adair 3/57, George Dockrell 2/34)
Oman beat UAE at Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo by five wickets
UAE 227/8 50 overs (Aayan Afzal Khan 58*, Vritya Aravind 49; Jay Odedra 3/31, Bilal Khan 2/46)
Oman 228/5 in 46 overs (Aqib Ilyas 53, Shoaib Khan 52*, Mohammad Nadeem 50*; Junaid Siddique 2/31, Rohan Mustafa 2/31)
Thursday 22 June – Fixtures
Nepal v West Indies Harare Sports Club, Harare
Netherlands v United States at Takashinga Cricket Club, Harare