Muscat: Talented all-rounder Wasim Ali will lead Oman Under-19 team in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Western Region tournament in Malaysia.
The Sultanate’s 14-member team will leave for Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to take part in the seven-nation tournament to be organised from October 31 to November 7.
While Wasim will lead the team, Mohammed Mohsin Qureshi will be his deputy.
The winners of the tournament will qualify for the ACC Under-19 Youth Asia Cup, scheduled to be played from November 9 to 17.
Oman team are composed of an exciting mix of specialists and all-rounders with an array of excellent performances in the domestic Under-19 League. The red brigade is heading to Kuala Lumpur with high hopes of making it to the final where it is likely to meet the UAE.
Skipper Wasim is pretty confident of reaching the final and qualifying for the Youth Asia Cup too.
“We have worked hard to prepare for this tournament. We have been practicing for two months now and have played a few practice games against some top sides in Oman and done pretty well. Boys are all pumped up and looking forward to this competition. We are quite confident of winning this and qualifying for the Youth Asia Cup later this month,” Wasim, who plays for Enhance in the Premier Division, said
Talking about the team, Wasim said he was leading a balanced side with a particularly strong bowling attack.
“We have a good batting unit too but bowling is our team’s strength and our bowlers, particularly our spinners, have been taking wickets in the run up to this tournament,” he added.
Echoing Wasim’s confidence, coach Haider Ali believes his boys stood a great chance of winning the championship and qualifying for the Youth Asia Cup.
“It’s a very balanced side but I must say our bowling is our main strength. Our fast bowlers, Ubaid Ullah and Mohsin (Qureshi), are both good. We have highly talented spinners, particularly captain Wasim and Varishab. Our batting unit too has the talent to do well. I am sure we are going to do well in Malaysia,” the coach, himself a champion fast bowler during his playing days with Raha, said.
Wishing the team well, Oman Cricket Secretary Madhu Jesrani said the tournament format meant Oman had to win their first match and it could be in semifinals.
"If we beat Bahrain, we will have a very good chance of reaching the semis. The kind of team we have gives us great hopes of winning this tournament and playing at the bigger platform of Youth Asia Cup against the big boys of Asia," he added.
Oman are placed in Group A along with the UAE and Bahrain while Group B comprises Iran, Qatar, Kuwait and Maldives.
After playing their first match against Bahrain on November 2, Oman will take on the UAE in a crucial group game on November 4. The group phase will be followed by the two semifinals on November 6 and the final the next day at Kinrara Oval.
Sher Mohammed will be the team manager while Suresh Kumar will accompany the squad as its physio.
Vinod Babu, a Level II umpire in Oman, will be officiating in the ACC Western Region Qualifiers. Vinod has prior international experience, having represented Oman as an umpire in ACC and ICC tournaments.
The 2017 Youth Asia Cup will see games between India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal, to be joined by the winner of the Western Region qualifiers. Nepal had defeated Hong Kong to win the Eastern Region qualifiers in September.
Oman U-19 squad: Wasim Ali (capt), Mohammed Mohsin Qureshi (vice-capt), Adeel Abbas, Harith Raghuram, Harikeshav Pramodu, Mohammed Saqib, Ubaid Ullah, Varishab, Vikram Nabira, Sanin Nisar Fahad, Nawed Abdulmajeed Al Balushi, Prathamesh Santhosh Kumble, Vivek Shreeraman Iyer, Rashid Ali Khan Malik.
Reserve players: Ashik Sony, Mohammed Sameer, Zuhair Maula Bakhsh Al Balushi, Arul Sajeevkumar.
Officials: Sher Mohammed (manager), Haider Ali (coach), Suresh Kumar Rajkumar (physio).