By Ravi Madholall in Toronto
Versatile, spinning all-rounder Saad Bin Zafar is highly confident that Vancouver Knights will retain the title for the second year in succession at this year’s Global T20 in Canada.
The actions are scheduled to bowl off July 25 with six teams again competing in a round-robin basis with the championship contest billed for August 11.
All matches will be played at CCA Centre ground in Brampton, a venue that has been switched from the inaugural tournament in 2018 at Maple Leaf, King City.
The thirty-two-year old Zafar noted that Vancouver Knights, not are confident and optimistic after dominated last year, but they have the players who are capable of making a big impression repeatedly.
“We have a strong and well-balanced team just like last year and we [are] confident that we have the potential to defend our title and be the winners again this year,” the Canadian international player related.
Zafar, who was the player-of-the-match in the final by scoring a responsible, unbeaten 79 and claimed two wickets, is understandably very anxious to replicate those outstanding performances with his left-arm orthodox spin and batting as well in the middle-order.
“My main role is to bowl four overs in the middle part of the game. I expect to be economical and at the same time try to pick up few wickets to restrict the opposition from posting a high total. I would also like to contribute with the bat whenever the opportunity is presented to me,” Zafar, who was born in Gujrunwala, Pakistan, mentioned.
Again Vancouver Knights will be led by pugnacious West Indies left-handed opening batsman Chris Gayle and the team is comprised of his Jamaican compatriot, the squash-buckling Andre Russell among other high-profile T20 stars.
“Gayle is a fantastic and seasoned captain. His ability to remain calm even in pressured situations and leading from the front is commendable, and I am sure he is also ready to lead from the front,” Zafar, who plays for Brampton Masters in Toronto, stated.
Apart from Gayle and Russell, Pakistani experienced batsman Shoaib Malik, New Zealand’s fast-bowler Tim Southee and South Africa’s stylist batsman Rassie Van Der Dussen and Canadian formidable all-rounder Rizwan Cheema are also in the Knights’ star-studded lineup.
At the final last year, Vancouver Knights humbled a West Indies “B” team, who stunned the cricketing world with some incredible performances by reaching to this stage. However, they will not be participating on this occasion, as Brampton Wolves will be with Knights, Toronto Nationals, Winnipeg Hawks, Edmonton Royals and Montreal Tigers as the other side vying for monetary and top honors.
No doubts fans across Canada and by extension North America would be delighted to see the steady flow of cricket here and with Canada losing out on International Cricket Council one-day status, Zafar strongly feels tournament of the Global T20 magnitude could help them prodigiously.
“This will help Canada cricket immensely. Playing with and against some of the top cricketers of the world is a great learning experience for local cricketers and once we are exposed to a higher and tougher competition regularly, we will become better cricketers with time,” declared an enthusiastic Zafar.
Meanwhile, some of the other T20 stalwarts who are named in their respective teams for this showpiece are: Brendon McCullum, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, George Bailey, Sunil Narine, Thisara Perera, Kane Williamson, Faf Du Plesis, James Neesham, Dwayne Bravo, Umar Akmal, Darren Sammy, Shakib Al Hasan and Shahid Afridi.