LO­CAL CRICKET Na­jeeb, Rao steer Al Mada to vic­tory

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Oman coach Pim Ver­beek is look­ing noth­ing less than a vic­tory as his team tack­les hosts Bhutan at Changlim­ithang Sta­dium in Thim­phu in the penul­ti­mate game of the Group D, de­spite qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, al­ready be­ing se­cured. The match kicks-off at 4pm, Oman time.

Speak­ing at a pre-match con­fer­ence on the eve of the match on Mon­day, Ver­beek said, “We will go all out for a win and we hope to close the gap on Pales­tine at the top of the ta­ble.”

Oman hosts ta­ble-top­per Pales­tine in the fi­nal Group D game in March, where the Dutch­man will hope to avenge June’s 1-2 away loss to Pales­tine.

How­ever, Ver­beek’s im­me­di­ate task will be to en­sure that his team picks up three points against Bhutan in tricky con­di­tions. With tem­per­a­tures hov­er­ing be­tween 5-10°C, and the venue sit­u­ated at a high al­ti­tude of 2,600m, con­di­tions are cer- tainly chal­leng­ing for the vis­it­ing Red War­riors de­spite Bhutan not able to pick up a point in the fi­nal round of qual­i­fiers.

“We are not tak­ing Bhutan lightly even if we have qual­i­fied,” said Ver­beek on Mon­day. “Bhutan is a dif­fer­ent team at home and we are look­ing for­ward to an ex­cit­ing game.”

Oman team man­ager Maq­bool al Balushi said, “We pre­pared for the match with a do­mes­tic camp. We didn’t play any friendly matches be­cause of the Oman­tel League sched­ule. The re­main­ing two matches are very im­por­tant and we should give our best.”

“Our main aim is to fin­ish on top of the group and this means that we should win the next two matches,” he said.

Bhutan be­gan the fi­nal round with a 0-14 de­feat in Mus­cat, and will be look­ing for a marked im­prove­ment in front of its own fans in its last home game.

“We will be play­ing for pride and we have pre­pared strongly for our home game,” said Bhutan coach Pema Dorji.

Also in the other match of the group, Pales­tine coach Ab­del Nasser Barakat in­sisted that he has no in­ten­tion of re­lax­ing in Tues­day’s meet­ing with the Mal­dives de­spite se­cur­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Asian Cup.

The penul­ti­mate out­ing in Group D will al­low Pales­tine to cel­e­brate its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Asian Cup ap­pear­ance with its fans at Arab Amer­i­can Univer­sity Sta­dium in West Bank.

Ahead of Tues­day’s games, Pales­tine holds a three-point lead over Oman. Sha­heer Na­jeeb slammed a half-cen­tury and cap­tain Su­raj Rao struck an un­beaten 43 to steer Al Mada En­gi­neer­ing to a three-wicket win over White Lo­tus In­ter­na­tional in an Oman Cricket B Di­vi­sion game at Al Amerat on Fri­day.

Bat­ting first, White Lo­tus was bowled out for 212 in 30 overs. Muhammed Nadeem Ashaq (73) and Shoaib al Balushi (60 off 48) were the no­table scor­ers. Guru Prasad, Deepak Bhan­dari and Nis­hanth Menon took two wick­ets each.

In re­ply, Al Mada was strug­gling at 64-4 be­fore knocks from Na­jeeb, Rao and Bhan­dari saw their team home with 19 balls to spare.

Brief scores: White Lo­tus In­ter­na­tional 212 all out in 30 overs (Ashaq 73, Balushi 60; Prasad 2-29, Bhan­dari 2-36, Menon 2-58) lost to Al Mada En­gi­neer­ing 213-7 in 26.5 overs (Na­jeeb 64, Rao 43 n.o., Bhan­dari 21 n.o.). Other re­sults: E Di­vi­sion: MCCC-A 124-5 in 20 overs (Piyush Anirud­dha 48, Jayesh Anil 40) lost to Oa­sis Wa­ter 127-3 in 12.5 overs (Anoo Kizhakke 31, Vi­neet Ku­mar 25). F Di­vi­sion: Ma­jees CT 135-5 in 20 overs (Aneeq Jas­som 41, Haris Aboobacker 35) lost to Ahli Bank 136-3 in 13.2 overs (Im­ran Syed 65 n.o., Issa al Balushi 39).

G Di­vi­sion: OCT Al Hail-B 116 all out in 18.5 overs (Nus­rat Al­lah 21; Ir­taza Hus­sain 4-12, Haja Hus­sain 3-29) lost to Unique El­e­gant 117-3 in 13.4 overs (So­hail Khan 66 n.o.).

Oman play­ers train on the eve of their match against hosts Bhutan in Thimpu on Mon­day Sha­heer Na­jeeb (left) and Deepak Bhan­dari of Al Mada En­gi­neer­ing

Oman coach Pim Ver­beek (left) and his as­sis­tant Muhanna Said al Adawi watch the team’s train­ing ses­sion on Mon­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.