By RON FANFAIR
Being the top team in the Americas region is some consolation for Canada’s senior cricketers preparing for next year’s World Cup.
Regaining the title as the region’s number one side in the 50-overs format of the game and losing just one match – the Twenty/20 final to the United States last Sunday during the just concluded Bermuda tour – has however certainly boosted the sagging confidence of a team that had won just two of its 15 matches this year.
Interim coach Ingleton Liburd was quite pleased with the team’s showing. He was standing in for Pubudu Dassanayake who was in Queensland last week attending Cricket Australia’s biennial medicine and coaching conference.
“The guys accepted their responsibilities and played as a unit and that was very important for me,” he said. “When you look at our record recently, it was also crucial that we get on a winning streak despite the quality of the opposition. You have to play what is presented before you which is what we did and we asserted our dominance once again in the region.”
Canada finished third in the last two Americas Cup competitions after winning the inaugural championship in 2000 and regaining the crown from the Americans four years later.
The national side was unbeaten in five matches, accumulating the maximum 10 points which was two more than the Americans. Host country Bermuda was third followed by Argentina, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
Dashing opening batsman and interim captain Rizwan Cheema was the Americas Cup Most Valuable Player. He scored 321 runs (av. 80.25). Youth all-rounder Hiral Patel was the second leading wicket-taker with nine.
In the Twenty/20 tournament, Canada – boosted by Zubin Surkari’s unbeaten 42 — defeated the USA by seven wickets and Argentina by nine wickets with 14 overs to spare to advance to the semi-finals against the Cayman Islands.
Medium-pacer Khurram Chohan was outstanding with the ball, claiming five wickets for four runs off four overs in the Cayman Islands total of 152-6 off 20 overs.
Led by Sandeep Jyoti who smashed four sixes and three boundaries in an unbeaten innings of 58 off 36 balls, Canada eased to victory by five wickets.
Canada fell to the Americans by five wickets in the final a few hours later.
“I could sort of sense this let down coming,” said Liburd. “We allowed the Caymans to escape from 47-6 to reach 150 and in the process we dropped several catches. We were not sharp on Sunday.”
Cricket Canada’s vice-president and High Performance Manager Ravin Moorthy is satisfied with the team’s overall effort.
“We went there to win nine matches and we won eight which is very good,” he said. “We expected to do well. It was a good tour for us just ahead of the World Cricket League (WCL) Division One series. We are definitely in World Cup preparation mode and looking for quality opposition in the next few months.”
The Netherlands will host the third WCL round-robin event from July 1-10. In addition to 2009 losing finalist Canada and the Dutch, the other contestants are reigning champions Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan and Kenya which won the inaugural tournament in 2007.