By RON FANFAIR
Canada’s tour of the United Arab Emirates ended awfully last Tuesday with the national side sinking to a six-wicket loss to Afghanistan in their four-day Intercontinental Cup fixture in Sharjah.
After dominating the first three days and seemingly well on course to finish the tour on a high note after missing out on qualifying for the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup in the West Indies, Canada stumbled badly allowing Afghanistan to register 454 runs for the loss of four wickets on the final day.
It was the ninth highest fourth innings run chase in first-class cricket and the highest by an ICC Associate team.
Canada, which scored a mammoth 566 in its first innings, set Afghanistan 494 for victory after declaring its second innings at 191-4. Canada did not enforce the follow on after securing a first innings lead of 302.
Former national captain Sunil Dhaniram led Canada in scoring in the first innings with a fine knock of 130 off 188 balls with a six and 17 boundaries. Skipper Ashish Bagai scored 93 off 144 balls with 13 fours while Nitesh Kumar – who batted at number three – and opener Trevin Bastiampillai recorded 74 and 55 respectively.
Off-spinner Kumar was the most productive bowler in the Afghans first innings total of 264, capturing 3-58 off 13 overs.
Bastiampillai posted his second half-century (73 off 93 balls) while Bagai was forced to retire on 2 with a knee injury in Canada’s second innings. Bagai however kept wicket in the second innings.
Canada’s first innings total of 566 was its second highest in first-class cricket. In August 2006, Canada amassed 588 in the first innings – John Davison, Ian Billcliff and Abdool Samad scored centuries – on the way to a convincing nine-wicket win over Bermuda at King City.
The national side lost all three of its matches in the World Cup Twenty/20 qualifier and rebounded from a thrilling one-run loss in the first of Two One-Day Internationals to Afghanistan to level the series with a four-wicket win the last match. That was Canada’s only victory of the tour.
The national side returns home today to prepare for the two-week Jamaica Cricket Festival that runs April 4-18.
Canada will meet Jamaica and the West Indies in One-Day Internationals and Twenty/20 contests at Kaiser Sports Club ground and Trelawny Stadium.