OMAN LEAVE CHIANG MAI ON A HIGH

Qatar, a team that prides itself on its batting prowess, lasted just over an hour as they fell to the spin mastery of Nikhil Xavier, to crash to their first loss of the tournament.

With Oman already qualifying for the knock-out stage and Qatar playing their last game in this tournament, this match was all about boasting rights for either team.

Captains at the toss

Oman, after winning the toss, were brave enough to put Qatar in to bat and the first over saw a positive outcome immediately through that decision. A normally patient and solid Tamoor Sajjad (0) sent Karthik Balasubramaniam's (1-9) delivery soaring after it hit the top edge for the easiest of catches. It was a huge sigh of relief for Oman when the ball landed in Akhilesh Iyer's hands followed by what seemed like a tournament winning celebration.

Nikhil Xavier: Spin master

Qatar were obviously in shock, losing their star batsman so early, but managed to put 31 runs on the board before left-arm spinner Nikhil Xavier (5-16), man of the match against Maldives yesterday, absolutely ripped through the top order collecting four wickets in his first four overs, all of them maidens. Fellow left-arm spinner Abu Saud Haroon (2-9) duly assisted with two wickets of his own, as four of the wickets fell on an unlucky 31 for Qatar.

It was obvious Qatar were finding the spin of Oman difficult to play and what was a very disappointing batting performance came to a premature end in the 21 st over with a pitiable score of 59.

Oman were in no obvious hurry to finish off the game as they wanted no risks whatsoever. Playing at a very slow pace, Oman trudged along as Akhilesh Iyer (11) frustrated the opposition by stopping almost every ball he faced. Oman's first two wickets fell ten overs apart and by the end of the 15th over Oman were at 35-2.

The introduction of Abu Haroon (16*) saw a slight increase in the run-rate as he was quick off the mark with a boundary in his first over faced. Even though Iyer was soon run out, there was no cause for panic as Haroon wrapped up the game in the 19 th over with a boundary helping Oman win all four of their games in the group.

A jubilant Omani team

With a supreme performance incomparable to any other today, Nikhil Xavier picked up his second Man of the Match award in two days.

Nikhil Xavier: Man of the Match

Oman v Qatar at Gymkhana, Chiang Mai
Oman won the toss and elected to field
OMAN WON BY SEVEN WICKETS
Qatar: 59 all out after 20.3 overs (N. Xavier 5-16)
Oman: 63 for 3 after 18.4 overs

Man of the Match: Nikhil Xavier (Oman)

Filed December 19 2006