Opener Aaron Johnson hit a quickfire 68 off just 41 balls to spur Canada to an eight-wicket victory over hosts Oman in the final of the Desert Cup T20I Series 2022 at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat last night.
Johnson’s blazing knock – his fourth fifty of the tournament to go along with his maiden century, also against Oman in a group game – in a 124-run opening stand of 12 overs with Srimantha Wijeratne (51 off 35 balls) enabled Canada to chase down a 138-run target for the loss of only two wickets with six overs to spare.
Earlier, after Canada captain Saad bin Zafar won the toss and elected to bowl, Oman’s innings never really got going.
Pushed on the back foot by early strikes by the Canadian bowlers, Oman slumped to 23 for four in the seventh over and, when they lost their eighth wicket with the score on 74 at the beginning of the 15th over, a sub-100 total looked likely.
But wicketkeeper-batsman Naseem Khushi smote five sixes and two fours in an unbeaten 23-ball 47 to lift Oman to a more respectable 137 all out off their 20 overs.
The Oman bowlers needed to start similarly to their Canadian counterparts who had not only taken early wickets but stymied the flow of runs which added to the pressure on the host team’s batsmen.
Instead, they ran into Johnson, who reminded onlookers of former West Indian great Gordon Greenidge with his short-arm jabs for towering sixes, and Wijeratne.
The two laid into the Oman bowling with relish, bringing up the century stand in just over eight overs before Johnson was declared leg-before off Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood with only 14 more required for victory and eight overs left.
Even though number three Pargat Singh didn’t last long, given out caught-behind off medium-pacer Bilal Khan for nought with the score at 125 for two in the 13th over, Wijeratne and new man Harsh Thaker wasted no time in knocking off the remaining 13 runs required for a famous title triumph.
Johnson, who finished with 402 runs in seven matches, was declared the player of the series.