The winner of the Associate bowling category in the ESPNcricinfo Awards 2019 came, he yorked, he blew Hong Kong away. More on the awards here
He may not receive the same fanfare or top billing as other bowlers on the Associate circuit, but that does not mean Bilal Khan's skills are any less potent. Specifically, he is one of the finest exponents of the laser-guided missile into the base of the stumps.
When Oman had their backs to the wall defending a modest target of 134 with a spot in the T20 World Cup at stake, Bilal called upon his yorkers to single-handedly decimate a desperate Hong Kong lineup. He may not have won the Man-of-the-Match award on the night, but in the space of 90 minutes Bilal saved Oman's entire tournament from going to pieces with a blistering spell. There was no rocket science involved. Keep it full and straight with plenty of swing at 135-140kph, then see if the batsmen can keep it out. Three bowled and one lbw was the end result.
In a moment that was eerily reminiscent of the 2015 World Cup final at the MCG, the tournament's best bowler was pitted against a talismanic opening bat. So much rested on the showdown between Bilal and Hong Kong's dashing right-hander Nizakat Khan in deciding the fate of the match.
It lasted just two balls as Nizakat's ambitious drive to clear the infield was defeated by a full, hooping inswinger from Bilal that shook up the stumps. It was a massive psychological blow for the Hong Kong batsmen sitting in the dugout waiting to walk in, and a portent of what was to follow from Bilal's remaining 22 deliveries.
6 Bowlers who have taken four or more wickets in a T20I more times than Bilal's three occasions: Saaed Ajmal, Shakib Al Hasan, Imran Tahir, Rashid Khan, Ajantha Mendis and Umar Gul.
2 Number of Bilal's T20I four-fors that have come against Hong Kong. The previous one came in almost identical circumstances, in a four-run win in Abu Dhabi in 2015.
What they said
"When you are starting cricket, you have something in your blood that coaches help to shine and polish that. Bilal Khan is our key bowler. What else do you want when you are captain? Bilal's spell was outstanding. He gave us the match."
- Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood
The closest contenders
Ali Khan, 5 for 46 v Namibia, WCL Division Two, Windhoek
In another display of exceptional yorker bowling, USA's Ali Khan sealed a smash-and-grab victory over the tournament hosts. A triple-wicket 49th over capped his maiden five-for as USA eventually held on by two runs.
Nosaina Pokana, 5 for 14 v Oman, WCL Division Two, Windhoek
In a breakout year for the left-arm medium pacer, his finest performance came when his country needed it most. He struck on the first ball of the chase, then four more times in the Powerplay in a win that helped reclaim ODI status for PNG.