Oman Cricket: Confident Oman target T20 World Cup spot

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Photo Credit: Oman Cricket

Duleep Mendis’ men aims for one of the two available berths from Asia for the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies

Oman, radiating confidence, are setting their sights on securing a spot in the ICC T20 World Cup for the third time. They are vying for one of two coveted positions in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier Final 2023, scheduled to take place in Nepal from October 30 to November 5.

Oman enter the eight-nation tournament with high morale, having recently won a five-match T20 series 4-1 against Afghanistan A in Muscat.

Bolstered by the resounding series victory against a formidable opponent, Duleep Mendis, the national team’s head coach, expresses optimism about leading the team to their third T20 World Cup appearance.

“We had a very successful series against Afghanistan A, with our players delivering strong all-around performances against a formidable adversary. In Nepal, we anticipate a tough challenge and are eagerly looking forward to a strong performance, aiming to qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup for the third time.”

“Our players have prior experience playing in Nepal, and although the conditions will be cooler, we are heading to Kathmandu couple of days earlier to acclimatize. We experimented with different combinations and fine-tuned our

winning formula against Afghanistan A. We are hopeful of performing well and securing a spot in the 2024 T20 World Cup.”

Oman are in excellent form, having also clinched the Gulf Cricket T20I Tournament last month by defeating the UAE in the final.

For head coach Mendis, if Oman make it to the T20 World Cup 2024, it would be the third time he has led the Men in Red to the continental showpiece, having secured qualification in 2016 and 2021.

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier Final 2023 will feature hosts Nepal, along with Bahrain, Hong Kong China, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, and the UAE. The eight teams are divided into two groups of four for the Asia Qualifier Final.

The top two teams from each group will secure a place in the high stakes semi-finals on November 3, with the winning teams earning a ticket to the USA and West Indies for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

These two qualifiers will meet in a final on November 5 for the chance to win the tournament.

Group A includes Oman, hosts Nepal, Singapore, and Malaysia, while Group B consists of the UAE, Bahrain, Hong Kong, and Kuwait.

Experienced Zeeshan Maqsood, who led Oman during their previous ICC T20 World Cup appearance in 2021, will captain the squad, with Aqib Ilyas serving as the vice-captain.

The 15-member squad comprises two new faces, Pratik Athawale and Siddharth Bukkapatnam, while notable omission is opening batter Jatinder Singh, sidelined due to a calf injury.

Athawale is a wicketkeeper-batter who performed well in the recently concluded Oman D20 Championship, and Bukkapatnam is an off-spinner.

Speaking ahead of the team’s departure to Nepal on Thursday, skipper Maqsood said, “We have been consistent in T20s since our T20 World Cup debut in 2016. We also competed and co-hosted the 2021 World Cup with the UAE. We missed out in the last edition in 2022, and now we are in the Asia Qualifier final. We are confident about making it to the 2024 World Cup.”

Maqsood further noted, “Our preparation

for the Asia Qualifier final has been perfect. We’ve been focusing on T20 cricket for the past 7-8 weeks, starting with our domestic T20 league and then winning the inaugural Gulf T20I Championship 2023 in Qatar. We had a successful outing against Afghanistan A, which featured six to seven players from their national side.”

The long-serving skipper said, “Qualifying for the 2024 T20 World Cup will be a dream come true. We’ve also participated in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers 2023 in Zimbabwe in June-July and made it to the Super Six round. I thank the Oman Cricket board, its chairman H E Pankaj Khimji, and the support staff for their strong support.”

Nepal enters the Asia Qualifier Final as the highest-ranked team, holding the 16th place in the ICC Men’s T20I Rankings. However, the competition is intense, with the UAE (17), Oman (20), Hong Kong, China (21), Malaysia (25), Kuwait (27), Bahrain (28), and Singapore (36) all closely ranked.

T20WC format and qualification:

A total of 20 teams will compete for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, with the top two teams at the Asia Qualifier Final in Nepal securing their spots. The United States and West Indies will participate as hosts.

Australia, England, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka are already part of the tournament due to their top-eight finish in the 2022 edition.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan qualified based on their position in the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings at the end of the previous T20 World Cup.

Additionally, Ireland, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, and Canada have secured their spots through regional qualifiers.

Two more teams will join the tournament through the Africa Qualifier Final to be held in Namibia from November 20 to December 1.

Squad: Zeeshan Maqsood (captain), Aqib Ilyas (vice-captain), Ayaan Khan, Kashyap Prajapati, Shoaib Khan, Mohammed Nadeem, Naseem Khushi, Sandeep Goud, Kaleemullah, Fayyaz Butt, Bilal Khan, Shakeel Ahmed, Mehran Khan, Pratik Athawale, Siddharth Bukkapatnam.

Officials: Head coach: Duleep Mendis, Assistant coach: Evert Laubscher, Co-ordinator: Mazher Saleem Khan, Analyst: Zeeshan Siddiqui, Physio: Sean Nowak, Masseur: Amjad Khan.

Schedule: October 30: Oman vs. Malaysia (11:45am) October 31: Oman vs. Singapore (7:15am) November 2: Oman vs. Nepal (7:15am) (Match timings are in Oman time). All Group A matches will be played at Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground, Kirtipur. November 3: Semi-finals; November 5: Final (Matches start at 7:15am).

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