The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on Oman.
After a tricky T20I World Cup qualifying stage, Oman became the final team to qualify for the tournament. This will be their second ever appearance at the T20I World Cup, and they will have their sights set on securing a place in the Super 12s. And with a home crowd to cheer them on, Oman will be dreaming of continuing their incredible transformation and making the unthinkable happen this month.
Oman played their first two T20I matches of 2021 last week against Sri Lanka, suffering defeats in both games. Despite those defeats, they delivered spirited performances in both games and caused Sri Lanka a fair few problems. And if they manage to perform with the same levels of commitment and resolve in their three group games at the World Cup, they may end up pulling off a shock or two.
Home advantage will likely be Oman’s biggest strength at the T20I World Cup. They will be hoping to use the home support and their knowledge of the pitches to their advantage in the group stage. And it will be interesting to see if that is enough to see off the challenge of Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
The Oman squad has yet to reach professional status. And with a lack of resources limiting their progress, they will be reliant on individual brilliance to lead them to success. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen. But Oman certainly don’t have the overall quality that some of the other teams in the group stage round possess.
Oman will play all 3 of their First Round games at the Al Amerat
Cricket Stadium in Muscat
What the media are saying
Like many other associate teams, Oman is more of a football mad nation. So cricket often plays second fiddle. But there is great excitement and interest in the prospects of Oman at the World Cup, especially with a number of games being held in the country. Getting here is a great achievement for them, and anything more would be considered a bonus.
Pakistani born Bilal Khan was the leading wicket-taker in the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifying tournament with eighteen dismissals in Oman’s nine matches
The key player for Oman will be seam bowler Bilal Khan, who is the country’s leading wicket taker in T20I cricket. He has picked up 51 wickets in just 35 T20Is and is considered to be one of the deadliest bowlers in the format. His death bowling and ability to deliver yorkers at will make him Oman’s biggest threat. And if the left-arm pacer gets his radar right, he will pick up a lot of wickets over the course of the tournament.
The Omani captain Zeeshan Maqsood has become a crucial all-rounder for his team with 2 T20I half-centuries to his name as well as best bowling figures of 4/7
Keep an eye on…
All eyes will be on Zeeshan Maqsood, but Aqib Ilyas will also be important to Oman’s hopes of getting a good score on board. Ilyas has been a consistent performer for Oman in both T20Is and ODIs. And his ability to actor an innings is one that may prove to be invaluable keeping in mind the conditions. He is also coming off an impressive half century against Sri Lanka
Khawar Ali, Jatinder Singh, Zeeshan Maqsood (c), Aqib Ilyas, Ayaan Khan, Naseem Khushi (wk), Sandeep Goud, Mohammad Nadeem, Fayyaz Butt, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan
Oman have enough quality in their squad to cause problems to the likes of Bangladesh and Scotland, especially with the added home advantage on their side. But whether that will be enough to secure a place in the Super 12s remains to be seen. They are by no means the favourites, but they could well end up springing a few surprises at the T20I World Cup.