By Ravi Madholall in Toronto
Canada will open their limited-over campaign in the forthcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League Division Two against Hong Kong next Saturday in Namibia.
After spending two consecutive weeks in Sri Lanka to intensify their preparations for the six-team competition that runs from April 20-27, Canada should starts as one of the favourites.
In Sri Lanka, the Canadians racked up six warm-up match victories against various club teams and no doubt that would boost their confidence immensely as they seek to make it to the 2023 World Cup 50-over tournament. The top four teams will advance to Division One to vie for a spot at the World Cup Qualifiers which will be held later this year at a country to be named.
Recently, in their last two matches in Sri Lanka, the North American boys made light work of Old Sebastianites Cricket Club by an emphatic 104-run margin at Chilaw Marinan’s ground while the day before they thrashed a Sri Lanka Army X1 by seven wickets at the same venue.
Canada batted first against Old Sebastianites and piled up a formidable 261-6 from the allotted 50-overs while the home team only responded with 157-9 at the expiration of the 50-overs.
Stylist middle-order batsman Harsh Thaker top-scored with 66 which included five fours and two sixes while useful contributions came from Srimantha Wijeyerathne with 42, Rivundu Gunasekera with 29 and 28 from Ravinderpaul Singh.
When Canada bowled, right-arm medium-pacer and Guyanese Mark Montfort snapped up four wickets for 45 runs from his maximum ten overs while another right-arm fast-bowler Sukhdeep Singh Brar collected three wickets for 33 runs off eight tidy overs.
In other successful game against the Army X1, Veteran opening batsman Hiral Patel led the way for the Canada combination side with an impressive 77 which counted seven fours and three sixes. Canada was chasing a challenging 176-9 from 50-overs set by Army X1. Canada achieved the target with 11 overs to spare. Patel, the little right-hander, got good support from Wijeyeratne who made an aggressive 44 and 29 from all-rounder Nikhil Dutta.
Former Sri Lankan cricketer Seekkuge Prasanna hit 54 for the Army team as Patel produced a fine all-round performance by claiming four wickets for 28 runs from his eight-over spell. Varun Sehdev, Brar and Thaker also bowled well to back up off-spinner Patel by taking two wickets apiece. Earlier in the week, Canada also emerged victorious over Ordnance Army. Canada will start off their tour of Namibia against Hong Kong on April 20 in the six-team, eleven-day competition. The other four participating countries are USA, Namibia, Oman and Papua New Guinea.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Head Coach Monty Desai stated that the focus in Sri Lanka is achieved as the players have shown lots of enthusiasm to do well in Namibia while he expressed satisfaction to work along with the cricketers so far. The Indian is also delighted to be given the job.
“I would like to open by thanking the board and management of Cricket Canada for appointing me to the prestigious and demanding position of Head Coach. It is truly an honor to work with an organization that has shown such strong faith in my experience and abilities. There is an excitement to begin this journey where so much is at stake as six countries will be participating in the ICC World Cricket League, Division II Tournament.”
“It has been thrilling to spend these last few days in Sri Lanka with a combination of seasoned players with whom I have previously engaged after having gained additional experience myself. At the same time, the new faces to this game, are equally good, and bring their own unique value to the team. It is evident that we are working with a wide range of skills, and along with the wealth of experience brought by our Captain, Davy Jacobs; it is easy to be very optimistic at the onset of this journey.”