Sri Lanka white-ball Captain Dasun Shanaka gives a ‘thumbs-up’ before boarding the team bus
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Perera leave the hotel to board the team bus
Tropical Cyclone ‘Shaheen’ delayed the Sri Lanka cricket team’s departure to Oman for the first leg of the T20 World Cup on Sunday.
The team was due to leave for Oman on Sunday evening but had to postpone their departure as Oman was hit by ‘Cyclone Shaheen’, which killed four people and delayed flights to and from the capital, Muscat.
It was reported that ferocious winds of between 120 and 150 kmph (75-93 mph), and heavy rain throwing up waves of up to 10 metres (32 feet) left streets flooded and prompted evacuations from coastal areas.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) CEO Ashley de Silva said that there was a hurricane in Oman yesterday (Sunday) and the flights couldn’t take off and land there, so that is why the team is leaving today (Monday).
“The team was leaving directly from the hotel to the airport because they are currently in a bubble,” said de Silva.
“We were coordinating with the airline, and we kept them posted on the latest situation. We got the green light for the team to leave for Oman today,” said de Silva.
The Sri Lankan team left in the afternoon yesterday on a four-hour flight to Muscat.
“We have prepared well and the team environment is good. First of all, we have to get through the qualifiers, which is important. If we get the first position, we feel we have a better chance of going through the league stages,” Sri Lanka Captain Dasun Shanaka said before the team’s departure.
“Mahela Jayawardene is joining us after the IPL, we know how tactful a captain he is. We hope it will be a big advantage to us. His presence will play a major role in the tournament.”
De Silva said the delay would not affect Sri Lanka’s practice itinerary ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is to be played in Oman and in the UAE.
Sri Lanka are due to meet Oman in two warm-up matches on 7 and 9 October in Oman and also play two further ICC-arranged practice matches against Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea on 12 and 14 October in UAE before commencing their T20 World Cup qualifying round matches on 18 October against Namibia at Abu Dhabi.
All-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga and fast-bowler Dushmantha Chameera, who are currently in the UAE for the ongoing IPL, will join the Sri Lanka contingent later.
Both players are representing the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who have qualified for the playoffs that commences on 10 October.
Hasaranga has played in two matches so far while Chameera is still awaiting his first.
Streets in Oman’s capital, Muscat, and elsewhere on the coast have been submerged by Cyclone Shaheen