By Ravi Madholall in Toronto
Canada are through to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19, 50-over World Cup as the top Americas Division team after they defeated perennial rivals USA by an exciting five-wicket margin on Sunday at Maple Leaf ground, King City, Toronto.
Chasing a moderate 112 for their fourth successive victory in the five-team tournament, the hosts huffed and puffed to 113-5 with 167 balls to spare in front of a small but vocal crowd.
Player-of-the-match Akhil Kumar led the way with 26 while opener Randhir Sandhu scored 21. Other valuable contributions came from Udaybir Wahai with 18 not out while skipper Ashtan Deosammy hit 17. Despite their early loss of one of their openers, Canada batted patiently and meticulously against a penetrative USA bowling attack on a responded pitch.
Medium-pacer Abhiram Valisammagan picked up two wickets for 31 runs from five overs. Canada, who defeated the three other participating sides Argentina, Cayman Islands and Bermuda in convincing fashion, lost the toss. USA had done similar domination before this all-important collision.
However, USA’s innings failed to get greater momentum on this occasion as they struggled to score on a relatively fast outfield in brilliant sunshine. Joshua Kind was the only batsman looked real dynamic as he spanked five fours and a six in his top-score of 45. Apart from Saiteja Mukkamalla and Sanjay Stanley with 14 and 13 respectively, there was nothing more to shout about in their batting as wickets fell on a regular basis.
Right-arm medium-pacer Kumar grabbed three wickets for 26 runs from seven tidy overs. Another pacer Muhammad Kamal snatched two for 21 off six overs while left-arm orthodox spinner Raqib Shamsudeen collected two for 25 from his 9.4 economical overs and pacer Rishiv Joshi nabbed two wickets as well in their disciplined bowling display.
Canada will now begin their preparations ahead of the World Cup campaign which is billed for January 17 to February 9 in South Africa with Indian being the defending champions. Since the under-19 world cup event was inaugurated in 1988, Canada have never won it while they had failed to qualify on few occasions.
In 2018 when the tournament was last played in New Zealand, the North American kids only won two matches beating Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea but could not have advanced to the knockout stage.
On Sunday at the final round of the competition in which both matches played simultaneously, Argentina whipped Cayman Islands by 101 runs also at King City facility.
Argentina appeared first at the crease after winning the toss and piled up a formidable 233-8 at the expiration of the 50-overs while Cayman Islands, in reply, crushed to 132 all out in the 38th over.
Tomas Filas made a top score for Argentina with 43 and 41 from Agustin Rivera as pacer and Captain Luke Harrington-Myers bagged two wickets for 20 runs off his ten overs.
When Cayman Islands batted, Harrington-Myers returned with the bat to demonstrate his all-round capability by making an aggressive 39 which counted four fours and a six. Medium-pacer Axel Howwitz captured three wickets for 31 runs off his ten-over stint to claim the player-of-the-match trophy. Juan Cabrera, Filepe Jimenez and Alan Kirschbaum also delivered nicely to take two wickets apiece.
Meanwhile, Deosammy stated after the match that he was excited to win the tournament. “I [am] definitely delighted to be the top side in the competition; I think the guys played well from the beginning and we are now looking forward to the World Cup in South Africa,” the right-handed Deosammy, who hit an authoritative, unbeaten 155 against Cayman Islands, related.