England celebrate
England celebrate

England thrash Oman to get T20 World Cup bid back on track

England made an overdue statement of intent with a brutal thrashing of Oman, setting course for the next stage of the T20 World Cup with a rampant showing in Antigua.

Knowing they needed to finish the group phase with two emphatic wins to overturn Scotland on net run-rate, the defending champions showed no mercy as they blew their lowly opponents away for just 47, then chased down the runs in a record 19 deliveries.

After 48 hours of whispers that Ashes rivals Australia would be prepared to engineer England’s exit by easing up in their closing group game against the Scots, Jos Buttler’s side took charge of their own fate as they wiped out their deficit to ensure they will go second if they win Saturday’s clash with Namibia.

The English attack proved too hot for an Oman side rarely exposed to the elite level, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid toying with his prey as he claimed four for 11 and pace pair Mark Wood and Jofra Archer returning matching figures of three for 12. The innings lasted only 13.2 overs – a marathon compared to what came next.

With the race on to chase the runs in 5.2 overs and move ahead of Scotland’s rate of 2.164 in the process, Phil Salt set the tone by launching the first two balls of the reply hard over long-on for six.

He was cleaned up swinging at the third and Will Jacks followed but Buttler lashed 24 not out off just eight balls and Jonny Bairstow crunched both deliveries he faced for four to win it with 101 balls unused. No batting side has ever finished a game quicker at this level and England’s net run-rate was dragged from -1.8 to 3.081 in the process.

The mission in front of England was clear from the off, with maximum points needed in each of their last two games and healthy margins a necessity.

Buttler won the toss and handed responsibility to his bowlers, trusting them to impose themselves rather than asking his batting line-up to aim for the stands.

It was a call he would not regret. Reece Topley, recalled for Chris Jordan in the only change to the XI, set the tone with a solid three over spell as Archer kicked off the procession of wickets at the Sir Andy Roberts End.

Pratik Athavale and captain Aqib Ilyas were both unsettled by his length and lift, trying to get on top of the bounce but only succeeding in feeding low catches that were snapped up by Salt and Jacks.

Archer should have had a third when Moeen Ali grassed an ankle-high chance at slip, but the missed chance barely registered as Oman failed to get to grips with task at hand.

Wood was handed the final over of the powerplay and was too hot to handle. He had Zeeshan Maqsood caught and bowled off his first delivery and quickly added Kashyap Prajapati, flapping to mid-wicket after being hustled for pace.

At 25 for four, much of the damage had been done, but England did not rest. In fact, the arrival of Rashid’s well-honed leg-breaks and googlies merely accelerated Oman’s decline.

He ripped his opening ball past Khalid Kail’s sweep, who was stumped by a scrambling Buttler as he crept out of his crease, then watched as Mehran Khan offered Moeen the the easiest possible catching practice at slip.

In between Ayaan Khan dragged Wood into his stumps, another victim of the Durham player’s speed through the air. Rashid bagged two more as he toyed with the tail, producing a pair of wrong ‘uns that turned between bat and pad and sent the bails flying.

Oman snuck past the tournament’s lowest ever score of 39 – made by Uganda earlier this month – but the end was close. Shoaib was last man out, top-edging Archer into Buttler’s gloves to leave a regulation chase.

Salt sauntered out in fifth gear, drilling Bilal Khan for two straight sixes before losing his stumps. Jacks chipped Kaleemullah to point soon after but there was no drama to be had, Buttler laying into Bilal’s second over at a cost of 22, leaving Bairstow to apply the finishing touch.

Having averted calamity, England can now begin to make plans for a longer stay in the Caribbean providing no shocks against Namibia.

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