Cricket: Oman gears up for high-profile Quadrangular Series: Coach Mendis


Oman Cricket Academy inaugurated in Wilaya of Al Amerat

MUSCAT: The Sultanate is gearing up to host its biggest ever cricket competition — the Quadrangular Series involving Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Oman — in February at Amerat’s beautiful cricket ground and the hosts are eager to prove that their team is as good as its reputation.

While Ireland, which was recently granted Test status by ICC, will arrive in Oman in the first week of next month, the Quadrangular Series will start on February 13, culminating on the 17th with two games scheduled everyday followed by a rest day. The team with the highest points will be declared the winner.

In the middle of its own T20 domestic league, Oman Cricket has also started a training camp to ensure its players are in good shape and top form to compete with the high profile European teams.

“We had switched over to the T20 league from our 50-over competition in order to prepare hard for the forthcoming Quadrangular Series. Our boys will now be in a proper frame of mind to play a big T20 series,” said Duleep Mendis, Oman coach.

“We have also started team’s training sessions in the morning and evening as well. I believe we are on the right track and will be ready for the series,” added Mendis, who is also the Chief Development Officer of Oman Cricket.

T20 is the shortest and fastest format of the game, and the most popular too, because of the high-octane result-oriented drama that keeps everyone glued to their seats for three hours.

Oman Cricket prepared the best pitches for the format in the recently concluded five-nation ACC T20 Western Region Championship that saw many high-scoring games at Amerat’s twin grounds. Encouraging strokeplay, these pitches saw a lot of runs scored in less than a week. As many as 3241 runs were scored in 11 matches with a whopping 278 fours and 130 sixes with a boundary percentage of over 58%.

Are we going to see different pitches for the Quadrangular Series?

“Our curator had prepared excellent wickets for the ACC tournament and that is why we witnessed many high-scoring games. We are expecting the same high quality pitches for the Quadrangular Series too,” said Oman coach.

Oman’s reputation as a high-performance country has been growing steadily with a string of good performances in the international tournaments in recent years. However, many believe Oman feels more at home in the shortest version of the game and could provide tough competition to the European opponents.

“By nature our boys are better equipped for the shorter games as they have been playing the limited overs cricket for years in Oman. That is the main reason why we have been successful in T20. At the same time I must say that they are doing quite well even in the 50 overs now,” stressed Mendis.

Which of the three teams would be particularly tough to beat?

“Well, all the three teams are good but of course Ireland being a Test-playing nation belongs to the upper league. However, even Scotland and the Netherlands are quite strong and it will be a very good tournament for Oman to do well in. I am quite sure that we can do well and make an impact,” said a confident Oman coach.

When asked about any surprises in the team, he said there would be a few changes to the team that won the WCL Division Three and then toured Sri Lanka for the ACC Emerging Nations Cup.

Replying to a question about Oman’s poor show in ACC tournament in Sri Lanka soon after winning the WCL 3, Mendis said Oman was setback by a number of injuries.

“We were handicapped by injuries to our key players and that was the main reason we could not perform well in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the other teams were quite strong. However, at this time it is good for us to play stronger team because if we want to improve our game we need to play against stronger opposition,” he added.

The Quadrangular Series will be followed by a three-match ODI series between Oman and Scotland with the matches on February 19, 20 and 22, starting at 9.30 am.

T20 Quadrangular Series schedule (all matches at OC Turf 1)

13-02-2019: Ireland vs Oman (9.15 am), Scotland vs Netherlands (1.45 pm).

14-02-2019: Rest day.

15-02-2019: Netherlands vs Oman (9.15 am), Ireland vs Scotland (1.45 pm).

16-02-2019: Rest day.

17-02-2019: Scotland vs Oman (9.15 am), Ireland vs Netherlands (1.45 pm).