Vaishali’s girls script new chapter for Oman cricket

Oman women’s cricket team captain Vaishali Jesrani is back from Qatar after creating history for the nation in the T20I Triangular series and dedicated the team’s success to the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
The Oman women reached the final of a T20I tournament for the first time ever. The team won two of the three games that they played, both against Qatar, before losing to Kuwait in the final. All the matches were closely fought with Oman’s defeats also coming in nail-biting last over finishes.
“It’s the first time we got the ICC status for Oman women’s cricket and I’m glad the way the girls have played together and focused as a unit. We were able to win the runner’s up trophy for Oman cricket. I dedicate this win to late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. We are grateful to his contributions that have helped us get fantastic facilities.”
Vaishali dwelt on the growth of the team over the years and the learnings for them.
“We started our development early in 2017 when we went on a tour to Malaysia. It was a very raw side at that point of time. Then in 2018, we went to London and the experience and exposure we got there playing five matches helped us a lot. Thereafter we had plenty of training sessions, kept on training and focusing. The fantastic coaches that Oman Cricket has given us has helped us a lot. Sajith Kumar, who has been with us since 2014, has helped us with his experience and his training drills. Haider Ali (coach), the way he has handled the team combination. It was a total combination of team work.”
The skipper felt the team’s efforts in the tournament can be attributed to complete team work of the players and the coaches. “All the matches went into the last over. It was a total team effort of batting and bowling that turned the game for us. The girls played really well and contributed in taking the game to the last over by pushing hard. Anshita played well against Qatar and Sakshi’s batting against Kuwait are examples. In the final, we won the toss but lost wickets too quickly by the time we reached the last two overs. It was 93/6 at that stage. I felt we were short by 20-25 runs in the first innings,’’ Vaishali stated.

FOCUS ON FITNESS,
MENTAL STRENGTH
Vaishali also exhorted the players to pay attention to their personal fitness and lifestyle that have an obvious impact on their game as well.
“I want the players to focus on their personal fitness and personal lifestyle. Coaches are doing everything possible to help them but their personal fitness is something that they have to understand as players. It matters a lot for their game and their life and they have to understand the importance of it. The change will come slowly and surely with time and they will realise the importance once we start reaching the big finals in major tournaments,’’ she added.
Mental toughness and killer instinct are critical components when it comes to success in professional sport and Vaishali felt the Oman women’s team will acquire more of it in the days to come.
“We are playing the matches with the U-16 boys and they are very competitive. We don’t have any nail biting finishes with them. But we are improving gradually and the number of extras have also reduced in that aspect also. The more we compete with the boys, the more we will improve in terms of mental toughness and handling the nerves better.”

EXPOSURE REAPING REWARDS
Vaishali felt the team has also benefited from the exposure trips in the past and will play more series to gain experience and exposure against international teams.
“Oman Cricket is trying its best to give us the much needed exposure. Over the years we had trips to Malaysia in 2017 and then playing against some top county sides in London last year.”
Captaincy is no easy job in competitive, professional cricket but Vaishali said she is enjoying it thoroughly.
“I’m enjoying my captaincy and it makes me proud. I’m also happy that in the last two years the girls have started training seriously. They regularly attend the training camps and it is full strength with 18-22 girls. The parents are also supporting the girls well. I’m trying my best to help the players in whatever way I can,’’ she added.
Vaishali hoped the success of the Oman women’s cricket team will inspire Omani women to take up the sport as well.
“Inspiration is one of the most important things that I’m looking to achieve. I hope we can inspire more women and particularly Omani women also to be a part of our team in the future and take up cricket seriously,’’ the captain explained.
Two of Oman’s star performers Priyanka Mendonsa and Bhakti Shetty were thrilled with their performance but felt they still has a long way to go.
“It was a great experience and everyone put in their best efforts. As a performance I’m happy but there is a lot more to improve,’’ Priyanka said.
“I want to improve my consistency,’’ Bhakti stated.

COACH HAIDER ELATED
Oman women’s team coach Haider Ali praised the all-round team effort of the team for their performance in Qatar.
“It was a total team effort. Qatar and Kuwait are very good teams but I had faith in the players and their abilities. As the coach, I had confidence in their abilities and they put their heart and soul in the tournament. We did a lot of hardwork here before leaving. Thanks to my other team members Sajith Bhai and rest for all their support. Without their full support, we would not have been able to achieve this.
I think the girls showed the right attitude and commitment in the cricket field. Almost seven new players were there in the team while the senior players were playing their first T20I series. It was a great experience for the whole team playing a T20I series for the first time,’’ the coach added.
Haider made some observations about individual players and singled them out for praise.
“Vaishali led the team very well. Priyanka gave a good all-round performance. Bhakti was the pick of the bowlers, took six wickets in 4-5 games. Fiza and Sakshi gave good performances. Hina also contributed well. Snehal, Anshita, Yashika were the finds of the tournament. Sameera also played well under pressure.
Their attitude and commitment on the field and off the field was very good,’’ the coach revealed.