Oman Cricket chairman Pankaj Khimji said the country would have lost the hosting opportunity of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 due to Cyclone Shaheen.
On Sunday, when at least eleven people were killed in heavy winds and rain swept through the country after the cyclone made landfall in Oman.
We were so close to being virtually wiped out: Pankaj Khimji
Oman will be hosting six qualifier matches of Group B where their own national team will be playing with the likes of Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
Khimji said that had the Cyclone Shaheen struck in Al Amerat, the city where all the six games will be staged, then they wouldn’t be able to go ahead with the competition.
“We were so close to being virtually wiped out,” Oman Cricket chairman Pankaj Khimji told Reuters.
“We had the cyclone only a few nautical miles north. It made landfall there and it devastated that whole region and flooded the whole plain over there. Had this happened over here in this area, I’d have said ‘Goodbye’ to the World Cup.
“We got about three to four inches of rain And that made the ground even more lush and greener, it looks even prettier now. It washed off all the dirt and sand,” he added.
Cricket coming to Oman is gigantic: Pankaj Khimji
The T20 World Cup was initially supposed to take place in India but because of the COVID-19 situation in the country, the BCCI had to move the tournament to UAE and Oman in the October-November window this year.
Khimji said it was an overwhelming feeling for them as an associate nation to host and play in the mega event.
“This cricket coming to Oman is gigantic. To think that there will be tens of millions of people watching the first game, it’s overwhelming to an extent,” Khimji said.
“How often will an associate country get a chance to host and play in the World Cup at the same time? This is unreal, I’m living a dream,” he added.
Oman will be led by 33-year-old Zeeshan Maqsood in the showpiece event and their chairman hopes that the team makes it to the Super 12 stage with a top-two finish in Group B.
“They have been fantastic. These are rank amateurs, they have a job which they do nine-to-five, and they’ve taken a month or two off just to compete in this World Cup,” Khimji said.
Oman will play their first match against Papua New Guinea on October 17 at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1).