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T20 World Cup

Oman, PNG take centre stage as T20 World Cup gets underway


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Photo: AFP

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Oman and Papua New Guinea get the Twenty 20 World Cup underway on Sunday in the humble surroundings of Al Amerat with both sides determined not to be reduced to the role of warm-up acts at the global showpiece.

Originally scheduled to take place in Australia and then India, before being chased out of both by Covid-19, the seventh edition of the event begins with a double-header at the 3,000-seat venue outside Muscat.

Later Sunday, Bangladesh face Scotland before Ireland, Namibia, Netherlands and 2010 champions Sri Lanka join the fray on Monday.

The eight teams in the first round of qualifying are chasing four places  in the Super 12 round-robin stage.

England, Australia, South Africa, defending champions West Indies, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan will be waiting with all matches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. 

The top four will then progress to the semi-finals before the final in Dubai on November 14.

There is plenty at stake for the teams having to qualify.

A place in the next round guarantees a spot in the 2022 T20 World Cup.

There is also a financial incentive. Teams exiting at the first hurdle take home a modest $40,000 (34,500 euros) with the same amount awarded for each victory.

The eventual champions pocket a $1.6 million winner's cheque.

Oman are playing in their second T20 World Cup having shocked Ireland at the 2016 tournament.

Their team is made up almost exclusively of semi-professional South Asian expatriates who combine cricket with full-time work. Many train at 5:30 in the morning.

Papua New Guinea are making their T20 World Cup debut.

They have already acclimatised to conditions in the Gulf having been in Oman for a month.

"It is really a proud moment for me and the boys," said PNG skipper Assad Vala. 

Bangladesh have just one victory at the tournament since 2007 but with a world ranking of six, will be heavily fancied to make the second round.

They go into the tournament with home series wins over Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe under their belts.