Upcoming series to help our players in big way: Mendis

A file photo of Oman team and officials that took part in the ICC WCL Division Three, held in Amerat, in November last year

Experienced campaigner Ajay Lalcheta will lead Oman at the forthcoming Quadrangular T20I Series, which will be held at Amerat ground from February 13-17. The series will witness Oman host a Test-playing nation for the first time as Ireland will compete along with Scotland, the Netherlands and the hosts.

While the T20I series will be an opportunity for Ireland and the Netherlands to prepare ahead of their tour to India, Scotland's maiden trip to Oman, will also include a three-match 50-over series immediately after the Quadrangular meet.

Oman Cricket chief coach Duleep Mendis believes that the Quadrangular and the series against Scotland will be a good test for his players as they prepare for the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Two, scheduled to be held in Namibia in April.

In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily on Wednesday, Mendis said, “The Quadrangular format (T20) is different than what we are going to play in WCL Division Two (50-over). But, it is always good for our players to play against strong teams.”

The hosts' squad for the Quadrangular has been hit as two of its main players – Zeeshan Maqsood and Aqib Ilyas – have been ruled out due to injuries.

In the wake of their absence, Mendis has called back three players to the 14-member squad.

Allrounder Mehran Khan, Khurram Khan and wicketkeeper Mohammed Naseem make a return to the team while uncapped youngster Wasim Ali has been drafted into the squad.

Mendis said, “We will definitely miss Shani [Zeeshan Maqsood] and Aqib. While Shani is recovering from a toe fracture, Aqib is recovering from a surgery in his home town of Lahore. We hope that both the batsmen recover fast so that they would be available for WCL Division Two.”

Speaking about the Quadrangular series, the Sri Lankan great said, “We have been having good preparations and I am confident that the boys will capitalise on the home conditions to make an impact. We have played against all the teams and are looking forward to the series.”

The Oman chief coach said that 'the List A 50-over series against Scotland will be crucial for our preparations for Namibia'.

“The three-match series will be very important and good for us. Both the Quadrangular and the ODI series will help our players in a big way ,” he said.

Mendis said that an Oman Development Squad comprising fringe and national team players will take on Ireland in two friendlies on February 9-10.

Ireland team arrived in Oman earlier this week.

Oman to take part in Kenya tourney

Ahead of the ICC WCL Division Two, Oman will be heading to Kenya to take part in an eight-team international T20 tournament in March.

The Oman coach confirmed the team’s participation. Besides Oman, it will feature Associate teams of UAE and Hong Kong along with select XI of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Wests Indies and South Africa.

“It is a T20 tournament but if our players can get good runs and pick wickets against strong teams, it will give a boost to the boys’ morale ahead of Namibia 50-over WCL Division Two. It is a confidence-building tournament for us,” said the coach.

Aiming for top-four finish

Mendis said that the focus of the team is to finish among the top-four in the six-nation WCL Division Two tournament in Namibia from April 20-27.

Besides Oman, the other teams in the fray are Canada, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, US and hosts Namibia.

Mendis said, “We would like to be among the top-four as it would ensure that we gain ODI status from the ICC. It would be a giant leap for us as it would ensure that we have the ODI status for three years and we will be assured to play 12 ODIs every year.

“It is a pinnacle that we are aiming at, not to say that, we aren't eyeing a title in Namibia.”

 Oman squad: Ajay Lalcheta (captain), Khawar Ali (vice-captain), Jatinder Singh, Syed Aamir Kaleem, Khurram Khan, Mohammed Nadeem, Mohammed Naseem (wk), Mehran Khan, Fayyaz Butt, Jay Odedra, Bilal Khan, Wasim Ali, Kaleemullah, Sufyan Mehmood. Reserves: Sandeep Goud, Sindo Michael, Twinkal Bhandari, Nester Dhamba. Officials: Duleep Mendis (coach), Mazhar Khan (assistant coach), Jaganathan Premnath (physio), Evert Laubscher (trainer), Zeeshan Siddiqui (video analyst), Madhu Jesrani (manager), Pankaj Khimji (chef-de-mission).

Oman Development Squad: Bhandari (capt), Mehmood (vice-captain), Sanuth Ibrahim, Wasim Ali, Ayaan Khan, Shuaib al Balushi, Michael, Goud, Badal Singh,

Bilal Butt, Gopendra Bohra, Dhamba, Ubaidullah, Suraj Kumar. Officials: Sher Mohammed (manager), Ikhtiar Kazmi (coach).

“There were three generations of women artists whose works were displayed and that was a very powerful element,” said Jane. She herself had placed an artwork by her father, James Bickmore, on display. “My father would be absolutely tickled to be in an exhibition 15 years after he died.”

The exhibition was diverse in every way, from the varied mix of artists from all over the world, to the different styles, genres, subjects and mediums. “You had well known artists and amateurs who are just starting out. The youngest artist was three years old and there were 11 year olds and teenagers who came forth and donated their art for this cause,” said Jane. “Most of the artists have had some association with Oman, either they’ve lived in the country or visited or have had some relation.”

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