By RON FANFAIR
Canada remains on course to advance to cricket’s 2011 World Cup finals despite a five-wicket loss to the United Arab Emirates in the International Cricket Council (ICC) qualifying tournament in South Africa Wednesday.
Winning the toss and batting first, the national side posted a moderate total of 194 in 49.5 overs that was easily erased by the UAE in the 32nd over for the loss of five wickets.
Canada’s middle-order failed to produce with Ian Billcliff, skipper Ashish Bagai and Sunil Dhaniram contributing just six runs after left-handed opener Geoff Barnett and Sandeep Jyoti put on 71 for the second wicket in 16.3 overs following the early loss of explosive opening batsman, Rizwan Cheema, for 20 off 14 balls in the fourth over.
The consistent Barnett scored 39 off 54 balls with two sixes and two fours while Jyoti hit 43 off 78 balls with a six and five boundaries. Leg-spinner, Balaji Rao, batting at number 10, boosted the total with a 33-ball knock of 39 that included two sixes and four boundaries.
The UAE made a positive start, reaching the 100-run mark at almost nine runs an over, and were never in danger of losing the game. Off-spinner Jyoti was Canada’s most successful bowler with 2-47 off 8.2 overs.
Canada could qualify for another trip to the World Cup with a victory in Johannesburg over The Netherlands in the final round of the Super Eight series on Friday. Our national team, however, has never beaten the Dutch in One-Day Internationals, losing four matches by 17 runs, one wicket, eight wickets and 117 runs respectively.
The Canadians could still advance even if they lose to the Dutch based on results of the other matches and a superior run rate which could decide the top four teams that will move on to the World Cup to be jointly staged in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
With just one game remaining in the Super Eight series, Canada is second in the standings with eight points. The Irish, the only team to have qualified for the World Cup so far, lead with 10 points followed by The Netherlands, Kenya and the UAE with six points each. Scotland, Namibia and Afghanistan, which have four points each, are out of the quadrennial World Cup.
Kenya, the 2003 World Cup semi-finalists, is in danger of missing the next competition after a humiliating 201-run loss to neighbours Namibia. The East Africans need a win against the Irish on Friday to advance.
The Canadians defeated Kenya by seven wickets with 93 balls to spare and Afghanistan by six wickets with nine balls remaining in the Super Eights to put themselves in position to advance to a fourth World Cup finals. Canada made appearances in the 1979, 2003 and 2007 finals.