Oman upbeat ahead of qualifiers
After finishing runners-up in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, Oman now face a tough challenge in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa next week.
Adjusting to foreign conditions is part of that challenge, but the Oman captain, Hemal Mehta, is confident that all the hard yards put in training over the last few months would eventually pay off. The preparations included a trip to Sri Lanka.
"This tournament is going to be really challenging for Oman - in Windhoek at the Division 2 tournament we did well against good opponents and even in some regional events we have performed well, but we know it will be most challenging in South Africa," Mehta said.
"But we are still very upbeat. We started a preparatory camp in August 2008, where we did four to five days a week of training at our ground. The training is focused on fitness and fielding sessions and we've played in tournaments to prepare, including the ACC Trophy Challenge, which wasn't a major tournament but we were the champions of that and it gave us the extra turf practice we needed."
Oman and Afghanistan are the two affiliate teams in the competition. UAE is the only team from the Gulf region to have qualified for the World Cup (1996). Oman are placed in Group A with Namibia, Uganda, Scotland, Canada and Ireland. Their first match is against Canada on April 1 in Pretoria.
"We know it's going to be quite challenging and hard, but the good thing is that we have faced many of the teams before with successes against Namibia and Uganda so now it's up to us to beat the likes of Canada, Ireland and Scotland, which won't be easy but let's hope the wickets are cricket friendly and then we would live up to the expectations we as Oman have for the tournament."