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T20 World Cup opening ceremony to celebrate Omani Women’s Day

5 Oct 2021 By ASHOK PUROHIT

Muscat – With an estimated global audience of nearly 100mn expected to watch the opening ceremony of the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground on October 17, Oman Cricket (OC) is keen to leave an indelible Omani mark on the ceremony.

With just over ten days remaining for the global cricket showpiece event, Muscat Daily has learnt about the details of the opening ceremony planned by the hosts.

A dazzling double delight has been lined up and OC has confirmed that the event will be a ‘tribute to Omani women’ as the opening ceremony of the T20 World Cup coincides with Omani Women’s Day.

In an exclusive chat with Muscat Daily, OC chairman Pankaj Khimji said, “We have planned a special show to mark the opening ceremony of the T20 World Cup. Usually, ICC World Cup events are devoid of glamorous openings like Olympics, the FIFA World Cup or IPL. But this event is the World Cup and we managed to convince ICC to allow us to organise a short but spectacular ceremony.

“Fortunately, October 17 is also Omani Women’s Day and we decided to pay tribute to Omani women and the sultanate with a performance by Royal Cavalry’s all-women mounted band. They have performed at Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, considered to be the best outdoor event, and even played in front of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle in London.”

“That would be a perfect way to pay our tributes and mark the Omani Women’s Day but we faced the challenge of so many horses on the ground just before the match. With bio-security and other issues, it has now been decided that the all-women Royal Cavalry band will perform to Omani classical, western and Bollywood numbers at the opening ceremony and sign off the performance with the ICC T20 World Cup anthem.”

20-minute ceremony

Khimji said that the total ceremony will be around 20 minutes as the ‘slot will be the 30 minutes between the toss and the start of the match’, where hosts Oman will take on Papua New Guinea (PNG) at 2.30pm.

“Though we have a short time, we will ensure that there is an Omani mark left on the ceremony, a feature that will hopefully be included in the World Cup events ahead,” added the OC chief.

However, Khimji said that caparisoned horses of the Royal Cavalry will be part of the opening ceremony as nearly 20 horses would line up at the boundary of the ground with 16 women riders holding the national flags of all the participating teams. He said, “We have a plan to bring the ICC T20 World Cup Trophy on to the pitch on a horseback. The trophy will be unveiled to the world in a distinct Omani style.”

It may be recalled that OC had hosted a tour of the ICC Cricket ODI World Cup Trophy in August 2018 when the trophy was brought at the same venue by women riders on white horses with one holding the shining trophy and escorted by two riders on each side.

Khimji said that whole of Oman is excited to host the opener and thanked the state machinery and various stakeholders for lending full support to OC. The OC president said, “H H Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, has been the driving force for us and it is his full backing that gave us the confidence to agree to host the event of such a magnitude. Never in the history of Oman has a sports event attracted so many viewers worldwide as the total audience for the T20 World Cup is expected to be around 3.5bn.

“For us, the opening ceremony and the six games that will put Oman into global spotlight may reach an audience between 100-200mn from October 17-21.

“The mandate was clear from the top that this is an event not for Oman Cricket or Oman sports. It is for Oman and that’s why we are able to put in enormous efforts to make it happen in such a short time.”

The preparations are at war-footing and everything should be in good to go by October 13. Preparations on the ground will be tested from Thursday when Oman hosts Sri Lanka for two warm-up games on October 7 and 9 while Bangladesh take on Oman ‘A’ squad in another practice game on October 8.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka feature in the first round of the T20 World Cup along with Oman, Scotland, PNG, Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia. The eight teams are divided into two groups with top-two advancing to Super 12 stage, which will be played in the UAE. Oman have been clubbed with Bangladesh, Scotland and PNG. Oman will meet Bangladesh on October 19 after the opener against PNG and conclude their first round campaign with a match against Scotland on October 21.

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