One last chance for Oman to book spot in T20 World Cup
July 20, 2015 | 9:31 PM
by T.K. MOHANDOSS / [email protected]

Muscat: All eyes will be on Tuesday's match between the Netherlands and Namibia in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers as Oman, who were placed fourth in Group B awaits the loser for a knock-out match on July 23 to cement their place in the ICC World Twenty20 2016 in India.

Oman has been the most impressive side during the Scotland phase and with a bit of luck could have booked the ticket to India without much fuss, but now the situation is such that they need to play the waiting game.

During the first phase, where they played in tough Group B, Oman had stunned the cricket world with two impressive wins against top teams like Afghanistan and the Netherlands (their third win was against Canada), but just fumbled against Group topper Scotland.

The most crucial setback for Oman was their seven-run loss to Kenya and the washed out game against the United Arab Emirates. Both Kenya and the UAE along with Canada are out of the qualifiers.

Apart from the Netherlands-Namibia match, Tuesday will also see Afghanistan take on Hong Kong, who too like Oman and Papua New Guinea were one of the surprise packages.

The winners of those two games will join group toppers Ireland and Scotland in qualifying for India while the losers will play off against the fourth-placed teams from the group stage, Papua New Guinea and Oman, for the final two qualification spots.

According to the team base in Dublin, Oman is in no mood to relax and the team was busy training at the historical Phoenix Cricket Club, which was established in 1830.

After the training session the team think-tank was confident that Oman will fight it out against whichever opponent will be thrown upon them after the Tuesday match.

Be it Netherlands, Oman has the confidence of subduing them in the group match or be it Namibia, Oman has all-round ability to get past them.

"We are battle ready," said Oman national coach Duleep Mendis from Dublin.

"We have played extremely well so far, but for the match against Scotland. Now we know that we are in a must-win situation and the team is preparing well," said the legendary Sri Lankan.

"We have three days in our hand to prepare and we are making maximum use of the time to be in prime condition for the all-important match," added Mendis.

Meanwhile, Oman Cricket general secretary Madhu Jesrani was all praise for the players.

"We all know that Group B was very tough and our boys played really well to make this grade. Barring the match against Scotland, we have had a dream run by beating favourites Afghanistan and Netherlands and we were unfortunate to have lost to the weather or else the situation would have been different," said Jesrani, who is with the team in Dublin.

"But we will win the next match and go to India and I hope weather is in our favour," said a confident Jesrani.

Renaissance Day gift

Team manager Jameel Zaidi went a step ahead and said Oman must qualify for the World Cup.

"We are playing on Oman's Renaissance day and a victory will be the best gift for the nation," said a smiling Zaidi, who is keeping his boys in good mood.

"The boys are hungry and eager to win the crucial match and bring joy to all cricket enthusiasts in Oman," said Zaidi.

Assistant coach Mazher Saleem Khan also provided some news to cheer.

Skipper Sultan Ahmed, who had left for his home after his mother's demise, is expected to join the team soon.

"Sultan will join the team soon," said Mazher. "Our team is ready for the crucial match and we are preparing hard."

Meanwhile, Oman physio Premnath said the boys are fit and there are no injury worries.

"All of them are ready to play to their best ability and give Oman their first appearance on world stage."

Oman has impressed everyone with their all-round abilities and skilful leadership of Sultan. It is difficult to pin point who performed the best as each and everyone including the bench strength have played an important role in Oman's performance.

Team's technical advisor Derek Pringle said: "We have been better than the best and I believe they can make the World Cup."

One more good show will take them to further heights. As best wishes pour for the national cricket team from all quarters, hope is that history is made on the blessed Renaissance Day.

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