By RON FANFAIR
Pubudu Dassanayake will make his first World Cup appearance when Canada faces Sri Lanka in its opening match of the 2011 limited-overs cricket tournament in Hambantota, 86 miles south of the former wicketkeeper/batsman’s Kandy hometown.
He will, however, be in Canada’s corner as coach of the national side which will play two games in Sri Lanka and the remaining four in India.
Hambantota is a new stadium with lights that can accommodate nearly 25,000 spectators. Work on the new facility is expected to be completed by August 2010.
There is an eight-day break between Canada’s first match on February 20 and its next contest against Zimbabwe in the central Indian city of Nagpur. Canada will then return to Sri Lanka to meet Pakistan in Colombo on March 3 before heading back to India to oppose Kenya in Delhi on March 7, New Zealand in Mumbai six days later and defending champions Australia in Bangalore on March 16.
Bangladesh will host India in the opening game in Mirpur on February 19. A total of 13 venues will be used during the 43-day tournament which is shorter than the last edition in the West Indies in 2007.
The quarter finals will take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 23 and 25, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on March 24 and in Ahmedabad, India on March 26 while the semi-finals will be held in Colombo and Mohali, India on March 29 and 30. The final will be held at the renovated Wankhede stadium in India on April 2.
Dassanayake is currently in South Africa attending an International Cricket Council (ICC) High Performance training camp for Associate country’s coaches and batsmen who will be at the World Cup. National skipper Ashish Bagai, all-rounder Rizwan Cheema and youth players Nitish Kumar and Hiran Patel are also at the camp at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance centre that ends on November 23. Dassanayake will then head to Melbourne to attend a two-week coaching clinic before returning home on December 10.
Canadian senior team players Khurram Chohan, Harvir Baidwan, Umar Bhatti, Henry Osinde and Shaheed Keshvani and national junior fast bowler Maninder Aulakh are in Sri Lanka playing club cricket and training with that country’s most successful fast bowler, Chaminda Vaas.