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Hosting T20 World Cup watershed moment for Oman, its cricket: Khimji

Oman Cricket chairman Pankaj Khimji said co-hosting the T20 World Cup is a great opportunity to showcase the nation.

Oman Cricket chairman Pankaj Khimji has described co-hosting the upcoming T20 World Cup in October as not only a watershed moment for the sport but for the entire nation.

The T20 World Cup will be played from October 17 to November 14 in United Arab Emirates and Oman. The matches in Oman will be played at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground in Muscat.

“We are now showcasing not (only) Oman cricket, we are showcasing Oman to the globe, world and if we go by what we expect, this could be the third largest televised event in history after the football world cup and the Olympics that happened in Japan. This is the best way for Oman to showcase itself as the world’s best kept tourism secret. People hardly know much about Oman and this would be our chance to kind of showcase Oman to the rest of the world,” Khimji told PTI in an interaction when asked what hosting the World Cup means.

According to Khimji, arrangements are being made to accommodate 3,000 spectators.

“Oman has a beautiful green ground. Now, we are making arrangements for about 3,000 spectators, 500 out of those will be in the corporate boxes. We are also preparing a beautiful press-box and a beautiful media centre and TV production area. It is super learning for us,” he quipped.

Khimji also said this wasn’t a normal World Cup as it is happening in COVID-19 times.

“We will have to put in a bio-security protocol, this is not your normal World Cup, let’s put it this way. This is a World Cup during the times of Covid, it is a different kind of World Cup. Right now, we are grappling with all these protocols, security…. It is a great challenge, but it’s great fun,” he said. Khimji stressed that Oman government and the ICC along with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have extended support to the cricket board.

“BCCI is the host. We are into a tripartite agreement and the Oman government is our patron. So, the Oman government, right from the highest authority of the land, they bent backwards and left no stone unturned. Fantastic help from the government and we are issuing 30-40 visas in a matter of minutes. The ICC has been super. So far, we have ticked all the boxes.”

Oman played with domestic giants Mumbai in a one-day series and T20 series. According to Khimji, the Mumbai tour was the perfect “anti-dote” that was needed for Oman to start preparing for the marquee event.

“It really puts us in our place. We are playing Scotland and Papua New Guinea along with Bangladesh in our World Cup round one, and Scotland and Papua New Guinea we played umpteen number of times over the last two years and we had a fair share of wins, far better share of wins. So, how do we gear up? Scotland is coming out of the season; Papua New Guinea hasn’t touched cricket for the last year and half,” explained Khimji on the importance of the tour.

“Mumbai was the perfect antidote that we required to give us a jolted start in terms of our preparation one and you need a tough team to get the best out of you. You playing a mediocre team and saying well let the boy’s warm-up, that is not how it works. I an indebted to the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) for sending its team here,” he signed off.

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