Three Test-playing teams – England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – in Oman ahead of the T20 World Cup
Muscat – The city is in the grip of cricket fever as the sultanate gears up not only as the host for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener on October 17 but also for the opportunity to watch some exciting matches at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground between the hosts and the two Asian Test-playing nations – Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Adding to the excitement of the three back-to-back matches, starting on October 7, is the arrival of former T20 World Cup champions and cricket giants, England, in Muscat on Tuesday morning for a ten-day preparatory camp. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka teams arrived on Monday.
Muscat Daily was the first to report last week on the English cricketers coming to the sultanate for a ten-day camp ahead of their participation in the T20 World Cup in the UAE from the Super 12 stage. While England will not feature in any bilateral warm-up games with the hosts, Oman are all set to play two warm-up matches against Sri Lanka on October 7 and 9.
Bangladesh, who are pooled in the T20 first round Group B along with Oman, Scotland and Papua New Guinea (PNG), on Tuesday also confirmed that they would play a practice match against Oman A team on October 8. While the first match against Sri Lanka on Thursday will begin at 2.30pm, the next matches will start under floodlights at 6.30pm.
As Bangladesh and Oman are in the same group, an official warm-up match cannot be played under the ICC conditions.
Oman coach Duleep Mendis is expected to have a good look at the reserves against Bangladesh before the selectors announce the final squad of 15 for the World Cup ahead of the October 10 deadline.
Oman Cricket (OC) has confirmed on Tuesday that the three warm-up games will have entry tickets. The sale of tickets, which are priced at RO2 for each game, will begin on Wednesday afternoon.
Fans can purchase the ticket online on Oman’s delivery app TM Done. The ground capacity has been capped at 3,000 and OC will utilise these games for testing their preparations ahead of the World Cup opener and first round matches from October 17-21.
It has also been learnt that the three matches will be streamed live. The cricket buffs are already beaming with excitement and are eagerly waiting for some ‘memorable actions’.
Jitendra Jain, an expatriate cricket enthusiast, said, “These are great times for cricket in Oman. We have three Test-playing nations [England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh] right now in Oman with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh playing games against Oman. Our national cricketers will have a good exposure ahead of the World Cup. It will be heartening to watch the matches at the newly-furbished Oman Cricket Academy Ground.”
Another cricket lover, Sarfaraz Khan said that ‘Oman are lucky to have such big teams play here ahead of the World Cup’.
Oman recently concluded back-to-back ICC WCL 2 ODI tri-series and coach Mendis said that ‘the players got good practice and are capable of switching into the T20 groove quickly’.
Elaborate preparations are going on at the stadium as dress rehearsals of volunteers in
different roles have been going on along with security exercises.
Bangladesh, who are part of the first round T20 World Cup fixtures, are put up in Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort, while England team is staying at The Chedi Muscat. Sri Lanka team has opted to stay at Al Falaj Muscat Hotel.
Oman are currently also host to PNG, who are at Shangri La Barr Al Jissah while Scotland are staying at Sheraton Oman Hotel along with the hosts.
Ahead of the T20 World Cup, all four Group B teams will be together at the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah to ensure a secure bio-bubble from October 15. The first round teams will play warm-up games, arranged by ICC, in the UAE from October 10-14.
Bangladesh team reached Oman in early hours on Monday amid the country hit by tropical cyclone Shaheen. On Tuesday the team had their first training session at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) also confirmed that the team will play a practice match against Oman A after their earlier decision to skip the game in Muscat.
Bangladesh stars Shakib al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman, who are currently in the UAE for the ongoing IPL, will join the Bangladesh team in the UAE during the official warm-up matches.
Sri Lanka players also had their first training session on Tuesday.