From the desolate desert to the cricket festival
Just over three months ago, a desolate wasteland was all one could find in the space now occupied by the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium in Muscat.
Following an upsurge in Covid-19 cases in India last year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) – which was supposed to host the hosts – desperately searched for another venue for the tournament.
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And while they managed to confirm that the UAE would host the Super 12 stage of the event, confusion reigned over the hosting of the first round of the mega-event.
All of a sudden, Pankaj Khimji, a famous figure belonging to the illustrious Omani family of Khimji Ramdas, showed up and rose to the challenge of hosting the qualifying round in Oman despite the lack of existing infrastructure capable of to host an international event.
Interestingly, Sheikh Kanaksi Khimji, the late patriarch of the family and head of the Khimji Ramdas group of companies, was the only Hindu sheikh in the world to be awarded the title of Sultan of Oman for his contribution to the country’s economy. over the years.
144 years ago, when the Middle East still ignored the riches beneath their feet, Pankaj’s grandfather Ramdas Thackersey came to Muscat’s bustling trading ports for a living. This business would experience such a boom that at one point, the Khimji family even lent money to the Sultan of Oman.
However, despite being a very prominent person, Pankaj is often seen roaming the Al Amerat Stadium like any other person, providing the opportunity for a conversation about his vision and history. of how he managed to prepare an entire stadium from scratching in such a short time.
âJust three months ago, when BCCI was looking for another venue to host the T20 World Cup in the Gulf region, we were the first to raise our hands. We knew it would be a huge challenge. because there was nothing where we are at the moment. We set ourselves the goal of preparing the whole stadium in ninety days and here we are holding the event successfully, âsaid Pankaj at the Daily Star ahead of the Bangladesh-Oman game yesterday.
âFrom the pitch to the outfield to the stands, everything has been built in those 90 days. I have to thank everyone involved for making this happen.â
A big fan of cricket, Khimji is a big fan of Bangladeshi point guard Mustafizur Rahman and he has also expressed his willingness to welcome the Tigers in a bilateral series.
âThe chairman of your cricket council Nazmul Hassan is a very good friend of mine. It was a pleasure to meet him here. I am very happy to see the Bangladesh team and hope they have a great game against Oman Although I support Oman, I also have some favorite players on your team.
“I like Mustafizur the point guard. He has great skills as a pitcher. And also Shakib Al Hasan the all-rounder. I really hope that one day Bangladesh will come here to play a bilateral series with Oman. I have even had a little chat with Hassan about it, âhe said.