Oman’s preparations on track: Mendis

Sports Tuesday 28/May/2024 21:03 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman’s preparations on track: Mendis

Muscat: Oman’s preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is on track with the Men in Red notching up a win in the official warm-up game against Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Trinidad on Monday and their fourth victory on a trot since their arrival in West Indies earlier this month.

On Monday, Oman, coached by Sri Lankan great Duleep Mendis, chased down PNG’s total of 137 with five balls to spare to win by three wickets at Brian Lara Stadium, Tarouba in Trinidad.

Having been put into bat, PNG found scoring tough going with Lega Siaka posting their highest score with 28 off 20 balls before being dismissed to leave his side at 55 for three.

A late cameo of 17 from 10 balls from Alei Nao pushed PNG to 137 from their 20 overs as captain Aqib Ilyas disrupted the middle order with three wickets for 22.

Having already delivered with the ball, experienced Zeeshan Maqsood then impressed with the bat for Oman. The all-rounder had conceded just one boundary off his three overs of left-arm spin before making 45 from 42 balls.

Oman’s scoring was not fast however, and Mohammad Nadeem provided some much-needed impetus.

With four boundaries off the penultimate over he ended with 22 from 11 before Mehran Khan hit the winning runs with a four.

Oman will now face Afghanistan in their second and final warm-up game on Wednesday at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain in Trinidad.

It was the fourth successive win for Oman since Mendis’ men arrived in the West Indies on May 15.

The team had been training during their camp in Barbados, the venue for their first two World Cup games against Namibia and Australia.

Oman were the first of the participating teams to arrive in the West Indies and over the past two weeks, the team played three unofficial warm-up games.

In the three warm-up games in Barbados, Oman won two against Barbados XI and one against the University of West Indies team.

In his remarks after the win against PNG, Mendis said: “Our preparations are on track and these victories are morale-boosters for the players. The confidence among my boys is great and they are in good shape.”

He added, “It was a good win against PNG in the first official warm-up match. We have played so far three unofficial games in Barbados and one official warm-up match [vs PNG]. We won all of the four. Our preparations are ideal for the World Cup, where we have tough teams to negotiate.”

The head coach said: “The early arrival has helped the boys a lot as they got time to acclimatise to the weather conditions and also got a feel of the wickets in the West Indies. Thanks to the support of Oman Cricket board who arranged the pre-World Cup tour. We have another tough test against Afghanistan tomorrow [May 29] and hope to keep the winning streak.”

Oman are in Group B, the only Asian side in the pool, and carry a fair mix of tournament experience in their ranks. This will be their third appearance in the T20 World Cup, and the side is keen to leave their mark with a good showing.

Oman play their opening encounter on June 2 (June 3, 4.30am Oman time) against Namibia in Barbados, a side they’ve defeated twice in the past, and a win could set the tone for their tournament.

They next play former champions Australia on June 5 (June 6, 4.30am, Oman time) before travelling to Antigua for the remaining games.

Oman’s third group game is against fellow Associate nation, Scotland on June 9 (June 9, 9pm, Oman time) before concluding their Group B engagements with a match against defending champions England on June 13 (June 13, 11pm, Oman time).

Oman are being led by all-rounder Aqib Ilyas, a top-order batter and team’s leading spinner. Ilyas will get the support of former captain, Zeeshan Maqsood, in the squad along with a mix of experienced players like Bilal Khan, Mohammed Nadeem, and Mehran Khan along with World Cup debutants - Pratik Athavale, Kashyap Prajapati, Shakeel Ahmad, Shoaib Khan, Khalid Kail and Rafiullah.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has arranged two official warm-up matches for the 20 participating teams at the T20 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the USA and the West Indies.

The tournament begins on June 1 with two games on the opening day featuring the co-hosts. USA meet Canada in the opener in Dallas, USA on June 1 (June 2, 4.30am, Oman time) while West Indies take on PNG in Guyana (June 2, 6.30pm, Oman time) .

Brief scores: [First official warm-up game]: At Brian Lara Stadium, Tarouba, Trinidad: Papua New Guinea 137/9 in 20 overs (Lega Siaka 28, Sese Bau 18; Aqib Ilyas 3/22, Bilal Khan 2/20) lost to Oman 141/7 in 19.1 overs (Zeeshan Maqsood 45, Khalid Kail 27; Alei Nao 2/12, Charles Amini 2/19).