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We are ready to give our best, says captain Ilyas as Oman take on Scotland in must-win game 

9 Jun 2024

North Sound, Antigua – The strong breeze that was blowing across the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, on Saturday seemed to come with a message for Oman team. With two successive defeats in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, the Men in Red will certainly hope that the winds of change blow across the beautiful stadium on Sunday when they take on Scotland in a must-win game. The match begins at 1 pm, local time (9 pm, Oman time).

Despite the setbacks, Oman has showcased a brand of cricket that has captured attention. Whether it was the nail-biting Super Over loss to Namibia in the opener or the early scare they gave mighty Australia in the subsequent game, both matches at Kensington Oval in Barbados, Duleep Mendis-coached Oman has forced the world to take notice of their skills and fearless style of play.

Scotland go into the match with three points already in their kitty following the washout against England and their win over Namibia. Following Australia’s win over England on Saturday, Scotland are now second behind the Aussies, who have four points and top the table at the halfway stage. Namibia with two points are third while England are a point behind. Oman are yet to open their account.

On the eve of the match against Scotland, Oman skipper Aqib Ilyas, expressed confidence in his team and said: “We are all ready to give our best as a unit. While in the previous two matches, our bowling was top-notch, the batters didn’t click. It is time for them to show their colours.”

Speaking about the game against Scotland, Ilyas added: There is no pressure on the team. We did lose but we have taken lot of positives from the two matches in Barbados. This is a new venue, and we hope to also change our results. The past two matches showed us where we did our mistakes, and it is time for us to amend those and pick up our first two points.”

Ilyas was confident that the bowling unit would continue its good performance but expressed concern on the batters failing on the top. “The batters must get their acts together and deliver. The team management also had a chat with the batters, and we all know that they are good players. They have the potential, and we are confident that they will come up good in the crucial match against Scotland,” said the 31-year-old skipper.

The Oman star all-rounder said the team had good preparations for the match on Sunday and the batters had good quality training session at the nets.

Ilyas said: “We had a look at the wickets on offer here and they also look like what we played in Barbados. However, the winds that blow across could be a factor and the boundaries here are on the bigger side. So, one must really hit long to score a maximum. With our slow bowlers, we would prove handy for Scotland, whom we have played several times in ODIs and T20Is. We are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and we hope for a positive result.”

Emphasizing the importance of executing their plans effectively, Ilyas reiterated, “We’re up against a fellow Associate nation. We boast some of the finest players among the Associates, and I anticipate a stronger performance on Sunday.”

On the match against Australia, Ilyas said: “It was a great experience to play the world champions and we got an opportunity to gauge where we stand against them. We fought well and who knows, had the catch been taken at the boundary of [Marcus} Stoinis early, we had a chance to win.”

Ilyas also said that “the good show from Associate nations in the ongoing T20 World Cup” underlines the progress made by Associate members and “if we get to play Test nations more, we could become better in the future.”

The skipper admitted that he has also failed to fire in the games played and hoped to do well. “I am confident that I will come good for the team in the crucial match tomorrow,” he said.

Despite nursing a thumb niggle, Ilyas reassured, “I will be fit for the match.”

On the possible XI for tomorrow’s match, Ilyas hinted that there may be changes in the team.

Ilyas knows that if there is one complete performance from the team, they will earn the first points of the tournament, and mathematically, a chance to stay alive in the World Cup with the group open ahead of the Australia-England match on Saturday.

Oman: Kashyap Prajapati, Naseem Khusi (wk), Pratik Athavale (wk), Aqib Ilyas (captain), Zeeshan Maqsood, Khalid Kail, Ayaan Khan, Shoaib Khan, Mehran Khan, Fayyaz Butt, Mohammed Nadeem, Rafiullah, Shakeel Ahmed, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan.

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