Muscat: The chairman of Oman’s cricket board told Reuters he would have had to say “Goodbye” to the Twenty20 World Cup if a deadly storm that hit the Gulf state on Sunday took a slightly different path.
Eleven people were killed when strong winds and rain hit the country after Tropical Storm Shaheen made landfall in Oman.
The Gulf state will host six Group B matches in Al Amerat near Muscat, including three with their own team, and Omani cricket president Pankaj Khimji said they were “very lucky” to have missed the worst of the storm. .
“We were so close to being practically wiped out,” he told Reuters.
“We had the cyclone just a few nautical miles to the north. It made landfall there and devastated the entire region and flooded the entire plain there.
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“If this had happened here in this area, I would have said goodbye to the World Cup.”
While a handful of hospitality tents took the brunt of the storm, the organizers were pleased with the greener appearance of the field after the heavy rain.
“We get three to four inches of rain,” Khimji said. “And that made the ground even more leafy and green, now it looks even more beautiful. All the dirt and sand was washed away. “
The tournament moved to the UAE and Oman from India due to a surge in COVID-19 and Khimji said it was a great honor for the minnows of the cricket world to host such a prestigious event.
“This cricket coming to Oman is gigantic,” he said.
“To think that there will be tens of millions of people watching the first game is overwhelming to a degree.
“How often will a partner country have the opportunity to host and play the World Cup at the same time? This is unreal, I am living a dream. “
Zeeshan Maqsood will lead a group of Omani fans into the tournament and Khimji was hopeful that he could reach the Super 12 stage with a top two result in Group B, which also includes Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
“They have been fantastic. These are rank amateurs, they have a job that nine to five do, and they have taken a month or two off just to compete in this World Cup. “
England arrived in Muscat on Tuesday to begin their 10-day preparatory camp before the Super 12 stage in the United Arab Emirates.
The World Cup begins on October 17.