All-round Stoinis stars as Australia overcome early wobble

Australia

Australia 164 for 5 (Stoinis 67*, Warner 56) beat Oman 125 for 9 (Ayaan 36, Stoinis 3-19) by 39 runs

When Glenn Maxwell fell for a golden duck, continuing his horror run with the bat, they were 50 for 3 and thoughts briefly turned to what could unfold but Stoinis and Warner added 102 off 64 balls to ensure Australia did not stumble early in their bid for ICC trophies across all three formats.

Stoinis was dropped on 9 and then bludgeoned six sixes as he turned around a sluggish start with Oman’s bowlers keeping pressure on their big-name opponents for 14 overs. It was hard work for Warner, who became Australia’s leading run-scorer in men’s T20Is, but he used his experience to not throw the innings away.

Australia were then largely efficient with the ball as Mitchell Starc struck in the opening over with an inswinging low full toss – although he was later unable to complete his spell as he left the field but it was confirmed as cramp – and Stoinis’ fine day continued as he added three wickets. Nathan Ellis, who had been selected ahead of the rested Pat Cummins, struck in his first over to claim a maiden World Cup wicket.

Oman’s moment(s) to remember

For well over half of Australia’s innings, this game was far from one-way traffic. Scoring was tough on a niggly surface and after the powerplay the total was 37 for 1 – Australia’s lowest in their last 15 T20Is dating back to the previous T20 World Cup. Head put away one well-timed cover drive early on but timing was hard work for him and Warner with Head picking out mid-off with a drive to lift Bilal Khan’s spirits after his Super Over disappointment against Namibia.

Mitchell Marsh couldn’t get going before picking out long-on, then came Oman’s big moment. Maxwell, coming off an IPL where he averaged 5.77, drove at his first ball from Mehran Khan and Oman captain Aqib Ilyas dived full length to his left at cover to hold a spectacular catch. It was Maxwell’s fifth duck in 10 T20 innings.

Stoinis takes his chance

Stoinis survived the hat-trick ball but there was no immediate release of pressure for Australia. After ten overs they had crept to 56 for 3 with the next two overs only bringing seven runs. Warner began to break the shackles with consecutive boundaries off Zeeshan Maqsood, but then it was a case of what might have been for Oman.

On 9, Stoinis edged a turning delivery from Ilyas which wicketkeeper Pratik Athavale could not gather – it was tough but not impossible. Two balls into the next over from Mehran, Ayaan Khan arguably paid the price for not being right on the rope at long-off when he held a good catch, but was unable to stop his backwards momentum taking him into the boundary.

That was the first of four sixes Stoinis struck in the over and from there he was away, bringing up a half-century from 27 balls. Australia’s first 14 overs had brought 80 runs; the last six brought 84.

Warner’s record

Before this match, Ricky Ponting lauded the winning mentality of Warner as he closes out his international career and said he was the type of player needed at World Cups. He couldn’t quite move through the gears in the same manner as Stoinis but reached a 46-ball fifty having earlier gone past former captain Aaron Finch to top Australia’s run-scoring charts in the format. Finch, at the ground as a broadcaster, appreciated the moment. There was one unfortunate moment for him after being dismissed when he started to accidently walk into the Oman dressing room before being redirected.

Professional Australia close it out

A target of 165 was always likely to be beyond Oman. Starc’s opening over was a bit of a mixed bag but he pinned Athavale lbw when a low full toss hammered into the toe, although Australia needed the DRS to get the lbw decision. Oman were then grateful for the review system when Ilyas was given lbw to Starc but even live the on-field call from Joel Wilson looked a poor one.

Ilyas deposited Stoinis for a six over deep square leg but two balls later edged a lifting delivery to Matthew Wade. Stoinis became only the third player, after Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo, to score a fifty and take three wickets in a men’s T20 World Cup match. However, Oman did not completely fade away as Ayaan provided a couple of moments of late defiance with two sixes off Adam Zampa while Mehran ensured they could cross 100 and bat out the innings.

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