Oman 109 for 3 (llyas 45*) beat UAE 108 for 9 (Butt 3-16, Khan 3-23) by seven wickets
The absence of three banned players in the wake of an ICC ACU investigation into match-fixing left UAE badly exposed on the opening night of the T20 World Cup Qualifier on home soil as Oman ran roughshod over the depleted hosts, storming to victory by seven wickets.
Oman demonstrated early that they would show little mercy to their shorthanded gulf rivals with some superb fielding leading to three wickets in the Powerplay. The sequence included a direct hit from mid-on by Khurram Nawaz but was highlighted by a brilliant diving catch from Aqib Ilyas at backward point off the fifth ball of the match to dismiss Ashfaq Ahmed and give Bilal Khan the first of his three wickets.
The normally fluent Rameez Shahzad and Rohan Mustafa struggled to pace their innings in the middle overs without the suspended Shaiman Anwar as a buffer, each scoring below a run a ball before they fell after the halfway stage. Shahzad was bowled missing a slog sweep to Khawar Ali’s legspin before Mustafa lofted Khan to Aamir Kaleem at long-on.
UAE wheezed their way past 100 before stuttering badly in the final two overs as Khan and Fayyaz Butt excelled at the death. Butt took three wickets in four balls in the 19th with clever use of the slower bouncer. Khan then had Junaid Siddique caught behind in the final over on what may have been a far more contentious decision – replays indicated it was a bump ball but third umpire referrals are not in place for this tournament – had the scoreline been remotely tighter.
The chase became even more comfortable for Oman thanks to some very sloppy fielding by UAE, in contrast to the visitors. Medium pacer Siddique bounced out Khawar for a five-ball duck to start the reply and should have had Jatinder Singh at deep square leg for 2 in the third over, but Waheed Ahmed put down a diving effort coming in from the rope and Jatinder went on to make 16, not much but enough in a low-scoring match.
A much clumsier effort was put down by Ashfaq Ahmed at slip in the 9th over. Kaleem was fresh at the crease after Jatinder’s run out by Waheed from deep cover and captain Ahmed Raza supported Mustafa’s offspin with a slip in the form of Ashfaq. But he still had his hands on his knees when Kaleem, on 2, edged one that went in between his legs at knee height and carried on for a boundary.
Kaleem made 27 off 19 before he slogged to long-on in the 14th off Raza but by that stage Oman needed just 28 off 39 balls to reach the target. An uncharacteristically sedate Ilyas patiently knocked singles and twos in tandem with captain Zeeshan Maqsood in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand to get Oman across the line with 10 balls to spare as Maqsood ended the match pulling a six off Siddique over square leg.
Dawid Malan jumps to No. 3 in men’s T20I rankings for batsmen
Twin half-centuries in the first two T20Is in Australia helped Babar Azam consolidate his position at the top of the men’s T20I rankings for batsmen. There was major movement just below him with Dawid Malan moving up all the way to No. 3 and Aaron Finch jumping from No. 4 to No. 2 in the latest update.
Among bowlers, Deepak Chahar was the toast of town after recording the best figures in men’s T20Is – 6 for 7 – in the third T20I against Bangladesh, and while that helped him move up 88 spots to No. 42, it remains a list dominated by spinners: Rashid Khan is still at the top and only two quicks, Andile Phehlukwayo at six and Chris Jordan at ten, are in the top ten.
Malan has made a brilliant start to his T20I career, scoring 458 runs at a strike rate of 156.31 in his nine games to date, with the 51-ball 103* in the fourth T20I against New Zealand his best so far. But Malan, and Finch – 37*, 17 and 52* against Pakistan – remain well behind Azam, who has 876 points to the Australian’s 807 and the Englishman’s 782. Below them in the top ten are Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell, Hazratullah Zazai, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Martin Guptill and Eoin Morgan.
Chahar’s upward movement, or the performance of the other bowlers in that series, haven’t impacted the top of that list, with Mitchell Santner, Imad Wasim, Adam Zampa and Shadab Khan below Rashid and ahead of Phehlukwayo, and Adil Rashid, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Ashton Agar also in the top ten. Santner, who picked up 11 wickets in New Zealand’s series of five matches against England, has reached the second place for the first time since climbing to the top in January 2018.
The update includes the recent men’s T20 World Cup qualifiers, and his 12 wickets in the competition has lifted Scotland left-arm spinner Mark Watt 13 spots to No. 15. Among batsmen, Papua New Guinea’s Tony Ura has moved up to No. 37, one spot above Jonny Bairstow and Mohammad Naim, the Bangladesh batsman who made a name for himself after hitting a quick 81 in the last game against India. Also within the top 50 were Scotland’s Calum MacLeod (No. 44), UAE’s Muhammad Usman (No. 45) and Oman’s Jatinder Singh (No. 46).
With Glenn Maxwell having taken an indefinite break from the game, Mohammad Nabi has moved to the top of the allrounders’ rankings, while in a big development, Oman’s Zeeshan Maqsood has jumped to No. 6.
In the team rankings, Pakistan’s 2-0 series loss in Australia hasn’t cost them the No. 1 spot, but the difference between the two sides has been trimmed to just one point.
Sri Lanka passes bill criminalising match-fixing
Sri Lanka has become the first South Asian nation to criminalise several offences related to match-fixing, after its parliament passed all three readings of a bill entitled “Prevention of Offences Related to Sports” on Monday. Offences related to corruption in sports will carry a prison term of up to 10 years, as well as various fines.
Aside from Sports Minister Harin Fernando, who presented the bill to parliament, former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who is a cabinet minister, was a strong supporter of the new legislation during Monday’s parliamentary debates. The sports ministry in particular is understood to have worked closely with the ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit during the process of drafting the bill. In fact, although the bill covers all sports, it is the recent ACU investigation into Sri Lankan cricket that is believed to have prompted this legislation.
The bill’s ambit is broad. It seeks not only to punish “any person related to a sport” who is directly involved in fixing, but also those who “provide… inside information”, curators who prepare playing surfaces to suit betting operators, and match officials who “deliberately misapply the rules” for money. In addition, it is now also illegal for former players (and others involved in sports) to provide corrupt figures access to current players.
Just as significantly, the bill also criminalises “acts of omission”, which includes failure to report corrupt approaches. This means that Sri Lankan cricketers who are approached by potential corruptors may now have to report these approaches not only to the ICC’s ACU under the ICC code, but also to a Special Investigation Unit appointed by Sri Lanka’s government.
Although parliament passed this legislation during Monday’s special sitting, it is not law until the Act is gazetted, probably in the course of the next 10 days. A parliament spokesperson said the gazetting is expected to be a mere formality.
While Ranatunga was a leading figure during the debate, urging parliament to push an unamended bill through as soon as possible, former SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala proposed amendments to the bill that were ultimately defeated on the floor. Sumathipala was at pains to mention, however, that he was not against the passing of the bill as a whole, only the contents of certain clauses.
Sri Lanka’s cricket has been under investigation by the ICC’s ACU since 2017. Several former players have been charged under the ICC code, the most notable of whom is Sanath Jayasuriya, who was banned for two years in February this year.
AB de Villiers to skip PSL for ‘managing workload’
AB de Villiers will be released from the Lahore Qalandars roster ahead of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Draft, with ESPNcricinfo learning that “managing workload” is the reason for the South African superstar reconsidering his plans.
De Villiers hasn’t played representative cricket since turning out for Middlesex in England’s Vitality Blast T20 tournament in September, and is expected to play in the Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat and then in the IPL, where he is on Royal Challengers Bangalore’s rolls. For the Heat, de Villiers will be available for the second half of the tournament, after Christmas.
When asked about opting out of the PSL – the PCB is pushing for the entire season to be played in Pakistan this time – de Villiers said, “Just managing workload. On-off as much as possible.”
The PSL Draft will be held on December 5, with the six franchises given until December 1 to finalise their retentions (up to eight players) and trade picks.
De Villiers was picked up by the Qalandars last season for seven games in the UAE and two in Pakistan, but he didn’t turn up for the Pakistan leg because of a back injury.
His presence at the PSL last season, at a time when the PCB has been trying its best to attract big players and top teams to their neck of the woods, was hugely celebrated, and he responded well, scoring 218 runs at an average of 54.50 and strike rate of 128.99 from seven games. Qalandars, however, finished bottom of the table; they have been among the bottom two on each of the four seasons so far.
Curiously, Qalandars have a history of picking big names, sometimes the biggest on offer, but it hasn’t quiet reflected in their results. They have been unfortunate too. If Chris Gayle had a poor run with them in the first season, in 2016, Yasir Shah was banned for testing positive for a banned substance the same year.
At various points, players of the calibre of Mustafizur Rahman, Chris Lynn, Shaun Tait, Dwayne Bravo and Anton Devcich have opted out because of injuries, and last season, their captain Mohammad Hafeez injured his hand in the second game, leaving them in a crisis they couldn’t get out of, despite de Villiers’ efforts.
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