Match Report – ENG vs OMA 28th Match, Group B, June 13, 2024

England 50 for 2 (Buttler 24*) beat Oman 47 (Rashid 4-11, Archer 3-12, Wood 3-12) by eight wickets with 101 balls to spare

After all the angst and indecision, England are back in the game, with a ruthless dispatching of an outclassed Oman. After routing their opponents for 47 in the space of 80 balls at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, they needed just 19 to hunt that total down, to hoist their troublesome net run-rate firmly into the black. Adil Rashid was the pick of an outstanding four-prong attack with figures of 4 for 11, before a turbo-charged chase capped by Jos Buttler’s 24 not out from eight balls.

Assuming England can achieve a further two points against Namibia on Saturday, Scotland will be left with the daunting task of beating the Group B leaders Australia if they hope to progress to the Super 8s – and even Josh Hazlewood at his most tongue-in-cheek might baulk at permitting that prospect.

England quicks flex in powerplay

England entered this contest needing not only to win, but to win quickly, given Scotland’s near four-point edge in the net run-rate stakes, not to mention the prospect of shenanigans in the Scots’ own final contest against Australia on Sunday. To that end, Buttler decided he wanted “to know how many runs we’re chasing” after choosing to bowl first at the toss. The answer, it would soon transpire, was “not many”.

The tone was set in a ferocious powerplay, as England unleashed their heaviest artillery of the tournament to date. Two wickets apiece for Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, allied to a probing three-over spell of left-arm seam from the returning Reece Topley reduced Oman to a flaky 25 for 4 … which immediately became 25 for 5 as Rashid announced his own arrival with another breakthrough first-ball.

Topley surely counts as England’s most luckless campaigner of recent times. He could have been a key component of the 2022 title triumph had he not rolled his ankle on a boundary marker during a warm-up match in Brisbane, and he then broke his finger while tracking well during the doomed 50-over World Cup in India before Christmas.

But here he set the tone with an exemplary one-run opening over – remarkably, his first at a T20 World Cup since the 2016 event in India – whereupon Archer struck with his second legal delivery, as Pratik Athavale followed up an opportunistic slap through the covers with a low chance to Phil Salt at short cover.

Archer made it two in as many overs when Aqib Ilyas chopped another low catch to Will Jacks at backward point, who clung on with a juggle – unlike Moeen Ali at slip two balls later, who let a routine snick from Zeeshan Maqsood flop out of his grasp. It scarcely mattered though. Maqsood had no desire to stay in line to a sharp loosener from Wood, as he lobbed a return catch off the quick’s first ball, and though Kashyap Prajapati put a dent in Topley’s figures with a slashed six over the short cover boundary, he too had no response to an injection of raw pace, as Wood cleaned him up with a clothed pull to midwicket.

Rashid rips through the rest

With a game broken wide open, Rashid was the perfect weapon to exploit Oman’s soft underbelly, and he did so with a display of unrelenting superiority. Four overs on the trot, a wicket in each, and just a solitary boundary cuffed through point by Shoaib Khan, amid a remarkable 20 dot-balls.

His first wicket came from his biggest ripper of the lot – an agenda-setting legbreak that almost turned sideways past Khalid Kail’s unbalanced sweep, and left Jos Buttler with so far to reach with his gloves that he missed his first attempt at the stumping, and only succeeded with the second due to Kail’s galling lack of game-awareness.

Moeen made amends for his drop in Rashid’s second over, with a comfortable take off a loose drive from Mehran Khan, by which stage Wood had bagged his 50th T20I wicket with another full-length rocket to induce an inside-edge from Ayaan Khan. Rashid’s third was a pinpoint googly, ripping through Fayyaz Butt’s gate after a previous attempt had thumped his pads, and when he repeated the trick with his penultimate ball to bowl Kaleemullah for 5, Oman were 47 for 9 and sunk.

Two balls later, Archer was back for his final over before Buttler had even considered turning to a fifth bowler, and he duly closed it out by inducing Shoaib Khan into a hoist behind square, for Buttler to mop up the resistance, tracking back towards fine leg.

Salt and battery

The crunchy numbers said that England could go past Scotland’s NRR if they won the contest in 5.2 overs or less. For as long as his three-ball 12 lasted, Phil Salt gave the impression that a 1.2-over finish was more realistic. Bilal Khan’s first two balls were full and inviting, and got the treatment with mighty smacks over wide long-off for six. His third, however, was dragged back half a yard, to knock back his off stump via a thin inside-edge.

Thereafter, it wasn’t quite so full-throttle, but not exactly a complicated scenario. After allowing himself a sighter, Will Jacks cracked a firm drive down the ground off a Kaleemullah no-ball, only to top-edge a similarly ferocious stroke in the same over. Jonny Bairstow, however, belted his first delivery over the covers for four, whereupon Buttler bludgeoned Bilal for four fours and a six in his second over. Bairstow then bashed his second four in as many balls, and that was the end of that.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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