Cricket: Oman in Pretoria to prepare for WCL Division 2
January 27, 2018 | 4:22 PM
by Times News Service
Members of Oman team pose for a group photo at Muscat International Airport before their departure for South Africa. Photo - Supplied

Muscat: With a bagful of match-winning all-rounders and wicket-taking bowlers, Oman national team has left for South Africa to prepare for the all-important World Cricket League (WCL) Division Two competition in Namibia that promises the top two teams plenty of honour and incentives to fight for.

Apart from elevation to the prestigious WCL Championship (Division One) where the top non-Test playing nations compete against each other, the finalists of the Division Two championship will qualify for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, which will be held in Zimbabwe in March.

Led by experienced Sultan Ahmed, Oman have reached Pretoria where they will play some practice games with local teams before heading to Namibia.

The real action will take place in Namibia from February 8 to 15. Oman will join Canada, Kenya, the UAE, Nepal and hosts Namibia in the six-team tournament.

Sultanate’s Red Brigade is quite confident of reaching the final after a spade of good performances against international teams like USA and Hong Kong in the last couple of months.

“We have selected the squad taking into account the form and fitness of our players as well as their recent performances in the domestic and international tournaments. We are fairly confident going into the WCL Division Two tournament and really hope our boys will make us proud once again,” Pankaj Khimji, Oman Cricket board member and chef de mission of the Namibia tour.

He said Oman Cricket has given the team everything they possibly could in terms of training, coaches, equipment and infrastructure so that there are no excuses for not coming back with being number one or two.

Oman has prepared hard for the tour for months with the training and net practice starting early morning.

“We have been focusing on players’ fitness and have held numerous physical fitness sessions. We have also been working on players’ batting techniques for some time and then we hired expert coaches Ruwan Kalpage and Anusha Samaranayka to fine tune their bowling and fielding techniques,” commented head coach Duleep Mendis.

He said the players know they have the backing of the whole country.

“Oman Cricket has backed them with all the resources it could muster. They know how important this tournament is for the country and if they do their job with full commitment I am sure they will be successful in Namibia too,” added the coach.

Oman will play their first match against Canada February 8 followed by a game against Nepal a day later. Over the next two days Oman will take on Namibia and UAE and then play Kenya in they last round robin game on February 14. The final as well as the play-offs for the third and fourth and fifth and sixth spots will be played on February 15.

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