Zimbabwe’s undefeated troop travel to Bulawayo looking to continue their press for a Cricket World Cup place.
The opening Super Six encounter saw Sean Williams take the lead for Zimbabwe once again; even as Oman bowlers made good use of helpful conditions.
Match 21: Zimbabwe- 130/3 (25) v Oman – Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
Returning skipper Craig Ervine and Joylord Gumbie were tested by the Oman pacers in the first powerplay, with a number of hits-and-misses and close calls, including a dismissal which was overturned on DRS intervention. Still they managed to hold on, and provided the tournament hosts a steady start.
The Queen Sports Club surface continued unfolding its tricks over the next few overs as the Oman seamers made merry. Ervine (25) was first to go when he swiped and missed against Kaleemullah in the 12th over. Gumbie (21) followed in the very next over, when his mistimed upper cut was pouched by the keeper.
Sean Williams, Zimbabwe’s star from their last encounter, took the lead in run-scoring and along with Wessly Madhevere got the Zimbabwe total past 100 in the 21st over. The duo brought up their half-century stand in merely 51 balls. Their enterprising partnership was finally broken when Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood got Madhevere stumped in the 23rd over.
Williams kept going from the other end and reached his half-century in the 25th over. This was the fourth time he had crossed the fifty-run mark in the tournament.
Oman won the toss, with Zeeshan Maqsood electing to bowl. Craig Ervine, returned to lead the Zimbabweans after sitting out their last group game as injury precaution, told Brian Murgatroyd he was happy for his side to bat first.
Ervine was one of the three Zimbabwe inclusions, along with Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara. Luke Jongwe kept his place from the last game. Oman meanwhile added Kaleemullah as an extra pace option at the expense of spinner Jay Odedra.
An upset over Ireland and a five wicket win over UAE were enough for Oman to make the next round of the Qualifier, though their defeats to Scotland and Sri Lanka mean they come into the Super Six stage with no carry-over points to their name.
It means Zeeshan Maqsood’s men would likely have to win all three of their remaining matches and hope other results go their way to qualify for India 2023, though they can take inspiration from Afghanistan at the last Qualifier five years ago, who squeezed into the World Cup after being in the same predicament.
Zimbabwe meanwhile are in the box seat thanks to wins over their advancing Group A adversaries.
Blazing past the Netherlands in an emphatic run chase on 20 June, the hosts held their nerve with a 35-run win over the West Indies, defending just 268.
Wins in two of their three matches against teams on the other side of the draw (Oman, Sri Lanka and Scotland) should be enough for a return to the World Cup proper, having last featured in the tournament back in 2015
While playing in the group based in Bulawayo, Oman played on just one occasion at the Queens Sports Club, though will be looking to create happier memories than their 10-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka on 23 June.