MUSCAT: Six teams will clash in Oman for the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 3, with the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) League 2 places at stake in the revamped Road to India 2023 pathway.
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 the United States 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 between 18 and 28 April. 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.
The hosts face Kenya in their first match at Oman Club (OC) Turf 1 on Friday, while in the other opening day fixture Uganda will take on Denmark at the Oman Club (OC) Turf 2.
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.
Musaka explains how he was first introduced to the game of cricket. “Cricket has been in my family for years, my elder brothers Frank Nsubuga and Lawrence Ssematimba introduced me to the sport. My father Mr Robert Mukasa worked as a barman at Lugogo Cricket Oval’s clubhouse and that’s we were able to access the facilities at the stadium as toddlers and we were able to take up this great game.”
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.”
Shah reflects on his first memory of playing cricket. “I was introduced to cricket by my dad, when I saw my elder brothers playing cricket in the playground. I remember I always wanted to play with them but they didn’t allow me because I was too young. I kept pushing them and after a bit of time, they started to teach me how to bowl and bat.”
The US will play their first match on day two against Uganda at OC Turf 1, whilst Singapore will open their account at OC Turf 2 against hosts Oman on 10 November.
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.
“Each and every player has been setting goals and maintaining records of their individual progress toward them with a great emphasis on the fitness regime considering the back to back high intensity 50 over games we plan to excel at the WCL 3.
“Personally, it will be my first time playing in Oman. Looking forward to how the conditions and opposition teams will be like and expecting to see some fierce competition and high intensity games. I am positive that all the hard work we have done as a team will pay off at the tournament.”
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.
“Since most of our squad members either have full-time jobs in the corporate world or are students, it isn’t possible to train in the day and hence the association has done a wonderful job with equipping the national ground for evening training.
“Definitely looking forward for the ICC WCL Division 3 in Oman and am really wanting to progress this year into Division 2 after missing out on two previous attempts on Net-Run-Rate having placed 3rd on both occasions.”
Friday, 9 November – Oman v Kenya, OC Turf 1; Uganda v Denmark, OC Turf 2
Saturday, 10 November – USA v Uganda, OC Turf 1; Oman v Singapore, OC Turf 2
Monday, 12 November – Kenya v USA, OC Turf 1; Denmark v Singapore, OC Turf 2
Tuesday, 13 November – Oman v Denmark, OC Turf 1; Uganda v Kenya, OC Turf 2
Thursday, 15 November – Singapore v Uganda, OC Turf 1; Denmark v USA, OC Turf 2
Friday, 16 November – USA v Uganda, OC Turf 1; Kenya v Singapore, OC Turf 2
Sunday, 18 November – Kenya v Denmark, OC Turf 1; Oman v Uganda OC Turf 2
Monday, 19 November – Singapore v USA, OC Turf 1
All matches start at 9.30am local time.
Live scoring will be available on www.icc-cricket.com