Australia emerges against gritty Oman

Australia emerges against gritty Oman amid a huge injury scare

by - 06-06-2024 | 11:51 AM

Australia have survived a tricky first-up ask at the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup, overpowering a courageous Oman side by 39 runs.

It comes as the Aussies have also appeared to dodge an injury scare to strike bowler Mitchell Starc, who pulled up sore after a delivery in his final over.

It was reported in commentary that Starc only suffered cramp and nothing more serious.

Starc made a valuable contribution to Australia with the ball, grabbing a pair of wickets, but Marcus Stoinis was the clear hero.

Stoinis picked up three wickets in the second innings, after blasting a team-high 67* off just 36 deliveries.

David Warner also delivered with the bat, as Australia totaled a defendable 164/5.

The pair produced some glorious shots, but Oman captain Aqib Ilyas produced a moment of the match contender in the field, as Glenn Maxwell was caught for a first ball duck.

There was drama pre-match as well, as the Aussies made the decision to keep Pat Cummins on ice and opted for Nathan Ellis to join the bowling line-up.

Cummins’ absence coincided with new T20I captain Mitch Marsh losing the toss.

Marsh admitted his preference was to bowl first and assess the wicket, but Oman had a similar plan and sent the Aussies in first.

The tournament heavyweights showed clear intent from the jump, registering 13 runs from the opening two overs.

But Travis Head’s stay at the crease ended in the third over, caught at mid off.

It proved a turning point for Oman, containing Marsh and Warner at a manageable clip for the next few overs.

The Aussie skipper then tried to unload over long on, caught just inside the boundary for 14 off 21 balls, putting Australia at 50/2 in the ninth over.

And the moment of the innings came next ball, as Ilyas took an inspirational catch at cover to have Maxwell out first ball.

It’s undoubtedly an early contender for catch of the tournament from Oman’s skipper.

Stoinis held his nerve to see off Mehran Khan’s hat-trick ball, but the challenge was just beginning for Australia’s hitters.

Through the middle stage of the innings, Oman activated defence mode, as the Aussies stumbled through a 30-ball boundary drought. Importantly, it was a period weathered without another wicket.

Warner upped the ante in the 13th over, scoring back-to-back fours, which also gave his partner a big confidence boost.

Stoinis unloaded four maximums in the 15th over off Mehran Khan’s bowling, to again change the complexion of the innings.

He brought up 50 off just 27 balls, before Warner joined him in the milestone club, playing a more anchoring role.

Warner departed in the 19th over, soon after his half-century, scoring 56 off 51 deliveries.

Stoinis remained unbeaten, compiling 67* off 36, as Australia set a total of 164 with the loss of five wickets – Tim David (9 off 4 balls) was run out on the final ball of the innings.

It would prove to be an ample amount of runs, as Starc got the new ball swinging in trademark fashion early.

A review confirmed the spearhead bowler had Oman right-hand opener Pratik Athavale trapped for a golden duck in the third ball of the innings – pad first, low and in line with middle stump.

The top order held it together, working hard to stay at the crease, until Pat Cummins’ replacement struck at the end of the fifth over.

In Cummins’ absence, Ellis produced a breakthrough scalp at the end of the fifth over dismissing Kashyap Prajapati LBW for seven runs off 16 balls.

And Stoinis got in on the act next over, catching the outside edge of Ilyas’ bat – the captain was dismissed for a run-a-ball 18.

He did it again in the eighth over, pinching another caught-behind wicket, emerging as the hero for the Aussies.

Oman never gave up the fight, outlasting the full 20 overs, with one wicket up its sleeve.

All-rounder Ayen Khan top-scored for the Omanis, scoring 36 runs off 30 balls in the middle order.

Oman finished 125/9 from their 20 overs, falling 39 runs short of the Aussies.

Adam Zampa and Ellis joined in on the act, with two wickets each.

It was a solid first-up test for the Aussies, who will be better for the run, as the title contender builds into the World Cup and continues to acclimatise to the Caribbean conditions.