Oman 228 for 5 (Ilyas 53, Shoaib 52*, Nadeem 50*, Siddique 2-31) beat UAE 227 for 8 (Aayan 58*, Aravind 49, Odedra 3-31, Bilal 2-46) by five wickets
Bulawayo: Junaid Siddique's twin strikes in the fifth over provided the perfect start to UAE. The dangerous duo of Kashyap Prajapati and Jatinder Singh was sent back into the hut. Chasing a modest target of 228, Oman needed batters who could hold the innings while seeing off the new ball.
Aqib Ilyas and Shoaib Khan came together to deliver for the Gulf side. They batted carefully over the next 10 overs, getting Oman to 42/2 in the first 15 before going for their shots. They went about six an over between overs 16-25 and got Oman to 101.
However, Oman lost the duo as soon as they had added 100 runs for the third wicket. Aqib (53) was bowled by Rohan Mustafa in the 27th over, and Shoaib Khan retired hurt at the end of that very over.
The arrival of two new batters was UAE's ticket into the contest. The Emirati side was further buoyed by the dismissal of Zeeshan Maqsood in the 30th over. The Oman skipper fell leg before to Mustafa's off-spin.
Effectively five down, Oman chose the attacking route. Mohammad Nadeem and Ayaan Khan brought up their fifty run stand off merely 47 balls. As the required rate came closer to four, the UAE side began to lose their spirit in the field.
UAE got a breakthrough in the 43rd over when Aayan Khan dismissed Ayaan for 41. But this brought Shoaib Khan, who had recovered from his injury, back to the crease. He helped Oman get over the line with Nadeem's help, while also getting to his half-century.
During the UAE innings, an 87-run stand for the third wicket between Aravind and Rameez and an aggressive fifty by teenager Aayan Afzal Khan, helped UAE to 227.
Probing new-ball spells from Bilal Khan and Fayyaz Butt, gave Oman early advantage against their Gulf rivals. Bilal drew first blood when he got the UAE skipper Muhammad Waseem lbw for 8 in the third over of the morning. The very next over, Fayyaz had Rohan Mustafa caught behind for the same score. The duo bowled tight lines to keep UAE at 36/2 at the 10-over mark.
Vriitya Aravind and Rameez Shahzad brought order after chaos and ensured that the Emiratis moved ahead at a steady rate. However, Rameez's (38) loss to Jay Odedra's off-spin in the 25th over gave Oman a crucial breakthrough at the right time.
This wicket turned to be a turning point, as Oman impressed with the ball in the middle overs. They picked three wickets between overs 26-35 besides stifling the scoring rate. Aravind and Ali Naseer were cleaned up by Odedra's brilliant off-spin, while Basil Hameed fell to Ayaan Khan's left-arm spin.
When Fayyaz returned to account for Asif Khan in the 40th over, UAE were 154/7 and Oman were right on top of the game. But for Aayan Afzal Khan's aggressive 58*, UAE might've struggled to cross even 200 in the game. The youngster hit 10 fours during his enterprising knock.