Oman confident of making it to ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup

Photo U-19

Prathamesh retained as captain for Division One Qualifier in Malaysia

Shahzad Raza

MUSCAT: Oman’s quest for ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup qualification will move closer to culmination when it embarks on its mission to win the CWC Qualifier Asia Division One in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and book its berth in the game’s showpiece event for juniors in South Africa next year.

Oman and Kuwait were declared joint winners of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier Asia Division Two in Bangkok after the final ended in a tie in December 2018. The two teams are now going to join UAE, Nepal, Malaysia and Singapore in Asia Division One qualifier in Malaysia whose winner, along with Division One champions of Europe, Africa, Americas and EAP, will qualify for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2020 in South Africa.

Oman Cricket has retained Prathamesh Kumble as the team captain and appointed former Indian cricketer Ghulam Ahmed Parkar as the coach, who will be assisted by Omani coach Pervez Abdul Qadir Al Balushi. The team will be managed by Sher Mohammed.

“We will not only be trying our very best to win in Malaysia but making an impact in Under-19 World Cup in South Africa too. We must have a big aim to become a champion side,” said Parkar, a dashing batsman who opened with Sunil Gavaskar in the only Test he played for India against England at the Lord’s in 1982.

Talking about his team composition, the coach said: “We have a balanced squad with a variety of options in batting and bowling. Whatever little time I have spent with the boys so far, I can assure you this team can be the champion in Malaysia. We have good batsmen and good bowlers too. They just need to play more matches together.”

Parkar believes Oman is capable of competing with more experienced teams like UAE and Nepal.

“Oman has moved from Division Two to Division One where it will face stronger sides like UAE and Nepal. Though I have not seen them in action, they are busy international teams and will be tough to beat for any side in the competition,” he added.

What difference is the coach going to make to a team that emerged joint winner of the Division Two Qualifier”

“My whole effort will be to make sure Oman plays positive and attacking cricket and win with bigger margins. Once you are able to overcome your opponents psychologically, you are more likely to overcome them physically too. Our boys have the talent to score runs and take wickets. My task is to convert this into solid results in our team’s favour,” explained Parkar.

The coach, himself an outstanding fielder throughout his first-class and India career in which he also played 10 ODIs, is confident of making a marked difference to the team’s fielding skills.

“I have yet to have a full-day fielding session with the team but hopefully we are going to have one soon. With a little bit of fine-tuning, I am sure Oman will be a better fielding side as well,” he added.

Oman will face Kuwait on April 12 in its opening clash of the tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

Oman squad: Prathamesh Kumble (captain), Joel Baiju (vice-captain, wicket-keeper), Adeel Abbas, Mohammed Sameer, Muhammed Muzahir Raza, Neev Poojari, Azam Ali, Yash Mehta, Jeel Tanna, Sami Al Balushi, Amanpreet Singh Sirah, Sanjaya Raj Ravindra, Joshin Vincent, Arjun Rajesh.

Reserves: Siddhant Nilesh Gavankar, Yaswant Udayakumar, Muhammed Ali, Abhimanyu Bhatti.

Tournament schedule: April 12: Malaysia vs UAE, Kuwait vs Oman, Singapore vs Nepal. April 13:  UAE vs Nepal, Kuwait vs Singapore, Oman vs Malaysia. April 15: Oman vs Singapore, Malaysia vs Nepal, UAE vs Kuwait. April 16: Malaysia vs Kuwait, UAE vs Singapore, Oman vs Nepal. April 18: Kuwait vs Nepal, Oman vs UAE, Malaysia vs Singapore.