MUSCAT: Hosts Oman take on Kenya as the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 3 tournament opens at the Amerat Cricket Stadium on Friday.
The six-nation competition will be contested by Oman, Kenya, Singapore, USA, Uganda and Denmark at Oman Cricket’s two floodlit green grounds as the Sultanate hosts its first international tournament.
While the hosts play at Oman Cricket (OC) Turf 1, Uganda take on Denmark in the other opening day fixture at the OC Turf 2.
The new 50-over structure, which was approved at the ICC Board meetings in Singapore last month, places even more importance on the event in Oman. Denmark, Kenya, Oman, Singapore, Uganda and USA will be striving to enter the pathway to the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup as high as possible.
The top two places in Oman will send teams into World Cricket League Division 2 taking place in Namibia from April 18 to 28. The CWC League 2 line-up will be completed by the top four teams from Division 2, who will join Scotland, Nepal and United Arab Emirates. The bottom four teams from the Oman event will play in the ICC Cricket World Challenge League.
OMAN CAPTAIN CONFIDENT
Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood, who is a storekeeper by profession but has been representing Oman for the past six years, said: “Oman hosting the WCL Division 3 will give us the rare opportunity to perform in front of our own crowd, which is sure to boost our confidence.
“Most importantly, for the first time we will be playing in an ICC tournament on home turf, which gives us some advantage over the other sides in the competition. In my entire playing career for Oman, this will be the first time that we will know the conditions better than the other sides and that will add to our confidence.”
Kenya have made a player replacement with Narendra Patel replacing Collins Obuya and Shem Ngoche taking over the captain’s role from Obuya.
Kenya captain Shem Ngoche, who has been playing for Kenya for the past eight years, said: “As a team, we have been playing warm-up matches to prepare for this tournament. Most recently, we went to South Africa where we played competitive cricket, which was a good test before heading to Oman.”
Uganda captain Roger Musaka, who alongside his 13 years playing cricket also spends time off the field farming, said: “I am quite confident we have done enough. Our last leg of preparations was in South Africa where we played in the Africa Twenty20 Cup and some good 50-over quality games against Kwazulu-Natal Inland in Pietermaritzburg. Our own national trial games have also been very competitive.”
“We only have one thing on our minds and that is qualification to WCL Division 2. We are going to do whatever is within our means to progress. Winning the whole thing is something we would like to achieve. But that will be one game at a time.”
Denmark captain Hamid Shah, who has just completed a Masters Degree in International Business and Marketing, said: “This will be my second tournament as a captain, and I am very excited going into the event. I am looking forward to a competitive tournament, where we are going to play against top teams. I know it is going to be a tough task in WCL Division 3, but I am confident with the combination of young and experienced players we have in the squad, that we are going to make a few upsets as we have done it before.”
The USA will play their first match on day two against Uganda at OC Turf 1, while Singapore will open their account at OC Turf 2 against hosts Oman on November 10.
USA captain Saurabh Netravalker, who is a full-time software developer, said: “As a team, we have had an extensive combine process early this year where we have gathered the best mix of experience and talent on the team. We have had numerous special training camps throughout the year.”
Singapore captain Chetan Suryawanshi, who has represented Singapore for nearly 15 years, said: “We have been preparing for this tournament by having trainings and practice matches every evening at our new interim ground at the Singapore, the Indian Association, which is now equipped with floodlights as of April 2018, making it the first proper floodlit ground in the country.”
ICC WCL Division 3 schedule
Friday, Nov 9: Oman vs Kenya (OC ground 1), Uganda vs Denmark (OC ground 2).
Nov 10: USA vs Uganda (OC ground 1), Oman vs Singapore (OC ground 2).
Nov 11: Reserve day.
Nov 12: USA vs Kenya (OC ground 1), Denmark vs Singapore (OC ground 2).
Nov 13: Oman vs Denmark (OC ground 1), Uganda vs Kenya (OC ground 2).
Nov 14: Reserve day
Nov 15: Singapore vs Uganda (OC ground 1), Denmark vs USA (OC ground 2).
Nov 16: Oman vs USA (OC ground 1), Kenya vs Singapore (OC ground 2).
Nov 17: Reserve day.
Nov 18: Kenya vs Denmark (OC ground 1), Oman vs Uganda (OC ground 2).
Nov 19: Singapore vs USA.
Nov 20: Reserve day.
All matches start at 9.30 am local time