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Oman ready to make waves at T20 World Cup

22 May 2024

Muscat – As the Oman cricket team prepares for their third appearance at the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA, an air of confidence surrounds them. This wave of optimism is driven by Oman Cricket (OC) President Pankaj Khimji, who is confident that his team can make a substantial impact and potentially cause some major upsets when the tournament kicks off on June 2.

Pooled in Group B alongside defending champions England, former winners Australia, Scotland, and Namibia, the Duleep Mendis-coached Men in Red will start their campaign against Namibia on June 3 at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Khimji believes Oman have the potential to surprise stronger teams.

“I am extremely proud of the way our boys qualified for the third T20 World Cup. Their journey to the 2024 edition has been nothing short of exemplary, and I have great faith in the ability of our players to create a few upsets against stronger teams in the West Indies,” said Khimji.

Optimal preparations

Ensuring the team has optimal preparations, Oman were the first team to arrive in the West Indies on May 14, holding a camp in Barbados and are scheduled to play three warm-up games against Barbados Cricket Association teams.

Khimji said, “The boys know what to do and they have nothing to lose. They will go out and play a fearless brand of cricket. Under coach Duleep Mendis and new captain Aqib Ilyas, the team is bound to fly the flag of Oman high.”

The vice-president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), Khimji added, “The preparations of the boys in Barbados are going great. The players are in excellent shape and in a good frame of mind. We have tried to provide the best possible preparations, and under young and talented Aqib, I have a lot of faith in the team giving a good fight and creating chaos.”

Support and acclimatisation

Khimji thanked H H Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham Al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth, for the strong support that has significantly contributed to the team’s recent successes.

Coach Mendis thanked OC for planning an early arrival in the West Indies, which is helping the team to acclimatise and play on local wickets.

“The boys have been acclimatising to the weather conditions, which are quite different from Oman. It’s very important that they get used to these conditions,” said Mendis.

He also acknowledged the support of Roland Butcher, former England international, for arranging the pre-World Cup tour to Barbados.

In the first warm-up match against Barbados XI on May 20, skipper Aqib Ilyas and opening batter Muhammad Naseem Khushi hit half-centuries, as Oman successfully chased down 176 in 19 overs for the loss of four wickets to earn a morale-boosting win.

Team prospects and incentives

Oman Cricket treasurer Alkesh Joshi is optimistic about the team’s prospects, and said, “The team is full of talent and has a proven track record. Since our debut in the 2016 T20 World Cup, there have been consistent results. This success is built on the players’ hard work, dedication, and commitment.”

Joshi emphasised the team’s resilience and fighting spirit. “The best part of the team under coach Mendis is their desire to fight till the end. They are not overawed by their opponents, and their belief is strengthened by the board’s full support. We are going to the World Cup with a lot of confidence and there is nothing for them to lose. The best part of the team is they want to compete fiercely and celebrate humbly their success.”

Joshi, who would be accompanying the side as the team manager added: “Attractive bonuses are being offered to the players for every win at the World Cup, with additional incentives for upsets against stronger teams.”

Sponsorship and warm-up games

In a related development, OC announced a partnership with Omantel, the nation’s first telecommunications company, as the principal sponsor of the team at the T20 World Cup. Omantel will also be the team’s official technology partner for the 2024-2025 season.

The ICC recently announced the official warm-up match fixtures for the T20 World Cup. Oman will face Papua New Guinea at Brian Lara Cricket Academy on May 27 and Afghanistan at Queen’s Park Oval on May 29. Both the games will be held in Trinidad and Tobago. These matches, although not accorded T20I status, will allow teams to field all members of their 15-member squad.

Oman return to the biggest stage after missing the previous edition in 2022, having played in the 2016 and 2021 editions. The team is set to showcase their talent and determination once again, aiming to make their mark on the global stage.

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