The first round of the World T20 could have a surprise host as reports have emerged touting Oman as the firm favourite to host the first week, which will witness 8 teams competing for a spot in the main draw. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are among the teams that will play Round 1 of the WT20.
The 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League getting shifted to the Middle-East means that UAE will be inundated with matches in a WT20 year. While PSL 2021 is set to be played in Abu Dhabi, the remainder of IPL 2021 is expected to be played across three venues in UAE. Pakistan and Afghanistan are also expected to play a bilateral series in UAE and the influx of matches means that there is a high risk of the pitches getting ‘tired’ even before the World T20 commences, particularly with the IPL set to be played weeks before the global extravaganza.
To tackle the issue, to keep the wickets in the UAE fresh, it is now believed that the ICC are looking at Oman as a potential host for the first week of the WT20. The first week of the WT20 will see eight teams competing for four vacant slots in the main draw, and the organizers are said to be mulling the idea of having Oman host the qualifying matches.
"Yes, the BCCI, during the ICC board meeting, has formally asked for a four-week window to take a final call but, internally, they have said that they would like to keep the hosting rights and wouldn't mind the tournament being held in UAE and Oman," a senior board official, privy to ICC board developments, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
"If IPL finishes by October 10, then the UAE leg of World T20 can start off in November which would give three weeks' time to the pitches to be spruced up for the global event. In the meanwhile, the first week can be held in Oman.”
Oman has hosted 96 international matches to date, with every single game being played at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat. The venue last hosted an international game in February 2020, a T20I contest between UAE and Kuwait.