Muscat: Despite disappointing performances in the practice matches played during their recent training camp in India, coach Duleep Mendis has described Oman cricket team’s tour of India as a ‘good learning experience’ for the entire squad.
The Sultanate’s 17-player squad, who were accompanied by six officials including coach Duleep Mendis, camped in Rajkot, in western Indian state of Gujarat, courtesy Saurashtra Cricket Association, as part of their preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 Championship in India and the Asia Cup T20 in Bangladesh.
During their training camp, Oman team also played five Twenty20 matches, including two day-night ties, all against Saurashtra team.
Playing against a strong Saurashtra team that comprised India Test regular Cheteshwar Pujara and young fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat, who represented India both in one-dayers and Tests as well as at Under-19 level, Oman fared rather badly losing all five matches which turned out to be one-sided affairs.
Duleep though disappointed with the results and the overall performances of his wards said it has been a good learning experience for all the players.
“Obviously the performances have been disappointing if we look at the overall outcome of the matches. But we should consider that we were playing against a strong team like Saurashtra with some established players among their ranks,” Duleep Mendis said.
Speaking to Times Sport after team’s return to Muscat, the Sri Lankan great said it has been a very good learning experience for all our players while admitting there are some areas of concern.
“It is definitely a good learning experience for these boys... playing in different conditions and against a strong team,” he said.
“I hope they all learn from this tour and improve further,” he added.
Duleep, who is also the Chief Development Officer of Oman Cricket, said the bowlers learnt a major lesson in the need to maintain discipline.
While thanking the Saurashtra Cricket Association for all the support and excellent facilities provided during the camp and the matches, Oman coach said: “As I said it has been a good learning experience for our bowlers. The major lesson they learned on this tour is the importance of discipline and to maintain line and length.”
“They found that in those conditions and against such opposition, if you bowl a loose delivery it will be dispatched not for one or two runs but to a four or a six. I hope they learn from this experience,” he said.
Duleep also said Oman bowlers benefited from their sessions with Sunil Joshi, former India Test bowler who was roped in as the spin coach and joined the team in India.
“Sunil has been an experienced bowler having represented India and also has the experience of working as a coach with the Ranji Trophy teams in India. He is a left-arm spinner and we have quite a few left-armers in our team. Definitely the team benefited from his coaching,” he said.
Duleep while stating that ‘I am glad our boys played in typical Indian wickets’, said Oman’s batting has been an area of concern for some time now.
“Our batting is bit of a concern at the moment. They are taking time... a bit longer, to adjust to the conditions. It has been the case since our tour of the UAE,” he said referring to the team’s trip to the neighbouring country in November.
During their UAE tour, Oman won a bilateral T20 series against Hong Kong while also performing excellently against teams like Afghanistan and the UAE.
“The Indian wickets are different from the recent ones we played on, like the wickets in the UAE. They are much drier and the ball comes off the pitch and onto the bat much faster. I am happy we have trained and played on these kinds of pitches and hopefully the boys are now ready for such pitches when we take part in the World T20 Championship,” he said.
Oman booked their berth in the ICC World T20 Championship after an excellent showing in Ireland-Scotland Qualifier.
The World T20 takes place in India from March 8 to April 3. To make it to the Super 10 stage of the world event, Oman have to get past their first round Group A opponents Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands. All Oman matches are to be played in Dharamsala.
Group B comprises Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and Afghanistan and only toppers from each group qualify for the Super 10 stage of the championship.
Oman are scheduled to start their campaign against Ireland on March 9. Then they take on the Netherlands on March 11 before completing their group engagements against Bangladesh on March 13.
Duleep is hoping to take Oman team to Dharamsala or another place with similar conditions for another training camp before the World T20 Championship.
Before that Oman team will participate in the Asia Cup, which will be played in T20 format, in Bangladesh in February.
Delayed in India
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Oman contingent had to depart India in two groups by different flights after 13 members, including 11 players and two officials, all Pakistani expatriates, were prevented from leaving the country as scheduled.
Asked about the issue, Duleep said: “Some members of our team had to delay their departure due to non-completion of some paperwork. And that has been taken care of and all them returned to Oman by next flight.”
Turning his attention back to World T20 and Asia Cup preparations, Duleep said: “We will gather again tomorrow and resume our training.”
He also informed that spin coach Sunil Joshi as well as pace bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake from Sri Lanka will arrive at the end of January to train the team. Fielding coach Vijay Bharadwaj and physical trainer Nagendra Prasad will also be with the team during that time.
“All four of them will be traing the team for about ten days,” Duleep said.
Oman team that camped in India: Players: Ajay Lalcheta, Zeeshan Maqsood, Jatinder Singh, Zeeshan Ahmad Siddiqui, Vaibhav Wategaonkar, Syed Aamir Kaleem, Sultan Ahmed, Syed Amir Ali, Mehran Khan, Munis Ansari, Sufyan Mahmood Mohammed, Rajeshkumar Ranpura, Khawar Ali, Muhammad Nadeem, Bilal Khan, Adnan Ilyas, Aaqib Ilyas. Officials: Duleep Mendis (coach), Mazher Saleem Khan (assistan coach), Syed Jamil Zaidi (manager), Jaganathan Premnath (physio), Nandisha and Sunil Joshi (spin coach).