Four successive victories and a champion tag to carry along after the recently-concluded Pentangular T20I Series in Muscat has given Oman a confidence boost ahead of its participation in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE, which begins on October 18.
Duleep Mendis’ men beat Nepal in the concluding game of the Pentangular series on Thursday to emerge champion before departing for Dubai on Friday.
Oman takes on hosts UAE in the opening clash of the Qualifier, which will witness 14 teams vie for the six spots at next year’s World Cup in Australia. The World Cup Qualifier will be played from October 18-November 2 at Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
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’s opener against the hosts will be held at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It begins at 7.30pm.
Last edition’s joint winners Scotland and the Netherlands will begin their campaigns on the opening day in ICC Academy ground 1 with Scotland taking on Singapore and Netherlands taking on Kenya at ICC Academy Ground 2.
The Group A matches will be held at the Dubai Sports City’s two ICC Academy grounds while Group B matches will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium and ADC Ground 1. The final will be held at the Dubai International Stadium on Nov 2.
The top finishers of each group will advance to the semifinals, while securing direct qualification to the T20 World Cup 2020 to be held in Australia from from October 18-November 15.
Six more teams, three from each group, will feature in qualification playoffs to spot the other four qualifiers.
A total of six teams from the Qualifier will join Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first group stage in Australia. Four from this stage will go on to the Super 12 phase, made up of top sides – Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan.
On Friday, captains of all 14 participating nations attended a launch ceremony in Dubai.
Nadeem in, Sufyan out
Oman made one change to its squad for the Qualifier, drafting allrounder Mohammad Nadeem in place of Sufyan Mahmood.
Speaking ahead of the team’s departure to the UAE, Mendis said that he expected ‘stiffer competition’ 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. We had a good preparation for the World Cup Qualifier with four successive victories and we are looking forward to doing well in the UAE,” he said.
Mendis added, “Our bowlers, in particular, had an outstanding tournament. But I am a bit worried that my middle-order batsmen could not get much time on the pitch during the series. We have two practice games ahead of the Qualifier and I hope they can get some practice.”
Earlier on Thursday, left-arm spinner Syed Aamir Kaleem took five for 15 to dismiss Nepal for paltry 64 in 11 overs. Oman, scored 65 for the loss of four wickets in the 12th over. Suraj Kumar top-scored with an unbeaten 42, that included three sixes.
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, Mohammad Nadeem, Syed Aamir Kaleem, Jay Odedara, Ahmed Fayyaz Butt, Kaleemullah and Bilal Khan.
Officials: Chef de Mission: Pankaj Khimji, manager: Madhu Jesrani, head coach: Duleep Mendis, assistant coach: Mazhar Saleem Khan, spin bowling/fielding coach: Ruwan Kalpage, fast bowling coach: Avishkar Salvi, trainer: Evert, video analyst: Zeeshan Siddiqui.