Oman turns to Azharuddin for batting tips

The former India captain is on a week-long assignment in Muscat as a guest batting consultant during the ongoing ODI series.

Mohammed Azharuddin along with the Oman cricket team.   -  Special Arrangement

The last few days have been quite interesting for the young cricketers of Oman. If hosting its first international ODI series against the UAE is keeping the cricketers excited, they have also found a heavyweight guest mentor — Mohammad Azharuddin.

The former India captain is on a week-long assignment in Muscat as a guest batting consultant during the ongoing ODI series. While Azharuddin has made it a point to individually communicate with all the team players, Oman coach Duleep Mendis believes that this move will boost the players’ confidence. “He (Azhar) is primarily here for six days. He is talking to each and every cricketer individually, and has made it a point to encourage them,” Mendis, a former Sri Lanka cricketer, told Sportstar from Muscat.

The Cricket Oman invited Azharuddin to spend some time with the cricketers in a build-up to the ICC Cup Division III tournament to be held in Uganda later this month. “We have taken quite a few steps to prepare the boys well. After the series against UAE, we will be touring Kenya for final preparation,” Mendis said.

However, Azharuddin will not be a part of the tours. “As of now, his is a week-long programme. After reaching here last week, Azhar is regularly spending time with our players. He is helping them in honing the skills and has also spoken to them about how to keep cool under pressure,” Mendis said.

During his interaction with the players, even the former India captain has advised the players to increase the concentration level and get out of the T20 mode. The former India captain has also advised the boys not to be scared too early. During its first match, the side crumbled under pressure, and that’s something Azhar discussed with the boys later. “In the ODI format, the players need to show more steel and that’s what Azhar has advised the boys,” Mendis informed.

The ongoing three-match series, however, hasn’t gone too well for the host as it has lost two of the games at Al Amerat. The side will be taking on the UAE in the final game of the series on Thursday and Mendis hopes things will change for the better. “This series will help us understand our strengths and weaknesses. While it would give us an idea about how to go ahead in the future, boys will also be ready before the ICC Cup Division III,” Mendis said.

The former Sri Lankan cricketer also believes that Azhar’s short stint will help the team grow. “With him around, the team’s confidence level has improved. He has also given a few tips that we are working on,”

Mendis said, adding that the team is geared up to deliver the goods in Uganda.

It’s just the beginning, but Oman looks to make it count!

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