MUSCAT: Having won the Pentangular T20 Series without breaking much sweat, the unbeaten Oman left for UAE to participate in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier feeling like the champion side it is now seen at Associate level.
The 14-team tournament will be held from October 18 to November 2. Group A comprises Scotland, Netherlands, PNG, Namibia, Singapore, Kenya and Bermuda while Group B has UAE, Ireland, Oman, Hong Kong, Canada, Jersey and Nigeria. Oman will play its first match on October 18 against host UAE at 7.30 pm at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Leading luggage brand American Tourister, Oman Team’s Travel Partner, wished the side more success in UAE.
“We are proud of Oman’s achievements at international level and privileged to be its travel partner. We wish the team similar success in UAE too,” said Sachin Malhotra, COO of Lifestyle, Khimji Ramdas, distributor of American Tourister brand in Oman. He was accompanied by Rohit Shah, General Manager of Khimji Megastore. Madhu Jesrani, Secretary, Oman Cricket, thanked them for the support.
Oman made one change to its squad for the ICC tournament in UAE, drafting all-rounder Muhammed Nadeem in, replacing Sufyan Mahmood.
Duleep Mendis, Oman’s Head Coach, said he expected stiffer competition in UAE where teams would play with much more intensity as the stakes were much higher.
“It is a new tournament and we know all the sides will be at their best. We are expecting much higher competition and it will be the same from us too. We had a wonderful preparation for the World Cup Qualifier and are looking forward to doing well over there,” he added.
After making short work of busy international teams like Netherlands, Hong Kong and Test-nation Ireland, Oman wasted little time bringing Nepal to its knees in its fourth successive win to walk away with the championship.
“Frankly speaking, I never thought we would have a clean sweep of a tournament that included such quality sides. But this was made possible by our team playing exceptionally well. Our bowlers, in particular, had an outstanding tournament and made all other sides look inferior,” said Mendis before boarding a flight to Abu Dhabi.
Replying to a question Mendis sounded a bit concerned about the lack of exposure to his middle and late order batsmen before a main tournament like World Cup Qualifier in UAE.
“I would have wanted some of our batsmen outside the top order getting more opportunities to bat but that couldn’t happen due to our bowlers dismissing sides for small totals,” he added.
Earlier, left-arm spinner Syed Amir Kaleem was instrumental in Nepal getting dismissed for a dismal 64 in 11 overs, taking 5 for 15 in four brilliant overs. Oman stuttered at the start before finding its feet to overhaul the target in the 12th over, scoring 65 for 4. Suraj Kumar topscored with a solid 42 not out off 30 balls including 3 big sixes.
Kaleem said the team had benefitted from all the support provided by Oman Cricket, particularly in terms of providing expert coaches.
“I learnt new things from our spin bowling coach Ruwan Kalpage who gave me some great tips. We are all focussed and happy to have acquired new skills. When we apply those skills in our matches we get great results,” said the south paw who was the second highest wicket-taker alongwith team mate Khawar Ali with 9 wickets each from four games. Karan KC of Nepal topped the bowling charts with 11 wickets.
Oman squad: Zeeshan Maqsood (captain), Aqib Ilyas (Vice-captain), Jatinder Singh, Suraj Kumar, Khawar Ali, Sandeep Goud, Muhammed Naseem Khushi, Mehran Khan, Khurram Nawaz Khan, Muhammed Nadeem, Syed Amir Kaleem, Jay Odedara, Ahmed Fayyaz Butt, Kaleemullah and Bilal Khan. Officials: Chef de Mission: Pankaj Khimji. Manager: Madhu Jesrani. Head Coach: Dulip Mendis. Assistant Coach: Mazhar Saleem Khan. Spin Bowling/Fielding Coach: Ruwan Kalpage. Fast Bowling Coach: Avishkar Salvi. Team Trainer: Evert. Video Analyst: Zeeshan Siddiqui.