Oman may have an early start to new season to prepare for ICC World Cup League 2 campaign

Sports Tuesday 18/May/2021 17:20 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman may have an early start to new season to  prepare for ICC World Cup League 2 campaign

Muscat: Sitting strong at the top of seven-team ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2, Oman is waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to relent so that it can restart its qualification march to the game’s showpiece event scheduled to be hosted by India in 2023.

ICC is likely to announce a new schedule of matches pretty soon after the tournament games were postponed last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic across the world.

With each of Oman, USA, Scotland, Nepal, UAE, Namibia and PNG scheduled to play 36 ODIs till the beginning of 2023, Oman has dominated the competition so far with 16 points from 10 games, having won eight and lost two. The USA is placed second on the team standings with 12 points from as many matches, having won six and lost six.

In a long race to India, the top three sides in the League 2 will qualify for the World Cup Qualifier in 2023 whereas the bottom four teams will feature in the Qualifier play-off.

Madhu Jesrani, Secretary, Oman Cricket, said the team standings could change when the matches resume as all the sides will return to action with renewed vigour and resolve.

“It is going to be a keenly contested race for World Cup qualification and we need to maintain our position. It is very important for Oman to stay on top,” he added.

Oman head coach Duleep Mendis said all the teams were waiting for the ICC to announce the new schedule.

“We know the importance of World Cup qualification and will be starting our training next month. All the boys have been informed to be prepared to join the training sessions Oman Cricket is planning to hold later in June. We may also start our domestic season a bit earlier to keep our boys well prepared for the ICC competition,” he explained.

Oman’s domination of the League 2 games played so far has been complete and the team looked ruthless in pursuit of its goal. It is pertinent to note that the tournament’s top run-scorer and the top wicket-taker now are both from Oman. Not only that, its gutsy all-rounders have made the headlines with sterling performances throughout the competition.

Oman’s batting star Aqib Ilyas is the leading batsman with 610 runs from ten games at an outstanding average of 76.25. His tally of runs also includes two hundred and four half-centuries. Aqib has been quite impressive with the ball too, collecting 14 wickets at 12.14 with an economy rate of just 3.86.

Top wicket-takers left-arm spinner Zeeshan Maqsood with 19 scalps at 19.47 and left-arm paceman Bilal Khan with 18 wickets at 18.72 have been the bowling sensations. Captain Maqsood has been impressive with the bat too, collecting 241 runs with one century and a fifty.

Khawar Ali, one of Oman’s top all-rounders, has been another star performer with 242 runs and 11 wickets at an amazing average of 12.14.

ICC World Cup League 2 games have also been good for Oman all-rounder Muhammed Nadeem, who scored 210 runs at an outstanding average of 103.50 with 2 half centuries in seven innings, remaining not out five times. His bowling spells fetched him 9 wickets.

Jatinder Singh and Sandeep Goud are the other notable performers with 182 and 179 runs respectively. Sandeep also has the distinction of being Oman’s top six-hitter with a tally of ten hits over the line.

Oman’s march to the top has a lot to do with Suraj Kumar’s safe hands behind the stumps, who has held 9 catches in 10 games, behind only USA’s Akshay Homraj who has taken 12.