Oman’s inspiring cricket journey

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Relentless prayers back home finally went answered in 2014 as Afghanistan took on the big names in the Asia Cup

Photo AFP[/caption] Oman entered the World T20 2016 qualifier as the underdog, was ranked 16th in the world and was up against some of the Associate heavyweights

With nothing to lose, Oman played for the thrill of the game

After suffering an early defeat at the hands of Kenya, Oman went on to beat the much experienced Netherlands, Afghanistan and Namibia as they did just enough to secure qualification for the play-offs ahead of more seasoned sides such as Nepal and the United Arab Emirates

Their win over higher-ranked tournament favourites, Namibia, sealed Oman’s ticket to India and also secured T20 international status for the next four years

They could finally begin to dream

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Oman will be making their Asia Cup debut when they play the Qualifiers starting on Friday

Photo: ICC[/caption] The team surpassed all expectations that had risen as a result of their entrance into the tournament

Their success is aided primarily by a strong and deep batting line-up that is led by Jatinder Singh who ended the tournament as the third highest run-scorer with 213 runs in four innings

Oman is brimming with bowlers in their bowling department

Players such as Munis Ansari and Ajay Lalcheta add great variety to their bowling attack

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"]Photo: ICC[/caption] Leg-spinner, Lalcheta, is usually used as an attacking option by captain Sultan Ahmed during power play overs in which he is often asked to open the bowling

Ansari emerged as the leader of the pack in the same tournament during which he took 12 wickets

Ansari made headlines during the tournament due to his slingy action, reminiscent of Lasith Malinga, and even managed to get a hat-trick thrice during the tournament

Oman, in its quest to reach the top, reached Bangladesh to challenge Hong Kong, UAE and Afghanistan for a place in the Asia Cup

Oman began the qualifiers on a high, defeating Hong Kong in a nail-biting encounter

After giving Hong Kong a mammoth 181-run target, Oman managed to keep the opposition at bay and seal a narrow five run win on their Asia Cup debut despite some heroics from Babar Hayat who scored 122 from 60 balls

After winning their opening match, Oman lost to  Afghanistan and UAE and failed to qualify for the main round of the Asia Cup

While poor display in the fielding department cost them some key match-defining chances, Oman managed to unearth Bilal Khan who shined with the new ball and moved with the ball at good pace

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"]Photo: AFP[/caption] With nine Pakistan-born players and five Indian-born players, Oman, like Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates, is often categorised as a mini subcontinent team that often spills cold water on its achievements

After already having roped former England all-rounder Derek Pringle as their new technical adviser, Oman have now engaged former Indian left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi and Sri Lankan all-rounder Rumesh Ratnayake to help them prepare for future tournaments

After being given full international status, Oman will receive extra ICC funding that will allow them to improve training facilities

Pitches are primarily made of astro turf and floodlights were recently installed at a revamped ground in Muscat

However, for a country like Oman, funding is not as serious a concern as promoting the game amongst locals

While setting long-term objectives for Oman, authorities must consider growth of the game at grassroots level

In a country where the main players are still predominantly Indian and Pakistani expats, the cricket administration needs to establish a framework which pulls in local players as well

Oman should take the lead from Afghanistan who has slowly and steadily developed a proper domestic structure that is constantly producing technically correct players rather than one season wonders

Oman’s cricket team has great potential, as seen in the Asia T20 Cup, all they require is consistent practice and a revamped domestic structure in order to compete with bigwigs on an international level

Date:20-Aug-2016 Reference:View Original Link