By RON FANFAIR
It’s hard to question the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to reduce the next World Cup tournament from 14 teams to 10 based on Canada’s dismal showing in its opening fixture against Sri Lanka last Sunday.
Nobody expected the Canadians to upset the 1996 World Cup champions and third-ranked One-Day International team in their own backyard. Competitiveness however is required at this level if Canada and the rest of the Associate countries are going to make an argument that they deserve a right to be at the World Cup.
This Canadian team, exposed to more overseas tournaments and preparation than any of the previous three World Cup sides, did not show that they belonged last Sunday as they fell by 210 runs, a day after an inconsistent New Zealand team brushed aside Kenya by 10 wickets with 252 balls to spare.
Chasing 332 for victory, Canada succumbed for 122 in the 27th over.
Hard-hitting all-rounder Rizwan Cheema, who slammed 37 off 35 balls with two sixes and four boundaries, skipper Ashish Bagai with 22 off 47 balls and Harvir Baidwan, who was unbeaten with 16 after taking 2-59 off 8.5 overs – were the only Canadians to reach double figures.
Australia-based John Davison, who at age 40 is the tournament’s oldest player, was bowled first ball after claiming the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who scored 100 and 92 respectively.
Canada’s next match is against Zimbabwe in Nagpur on Monday.
The national youth team, meanwhile, has qualified for the world Under-19 qualifier in Ireland from July 28 to August 9.
Canada advanced despite losing to the United States – coached by Trinidad-born former India all-rounder Robin Singh – by 23 runs in the Americas tournament in Florida.
It was Canada’s only defeat in the one-week series after convincing wins over the Bahamas by nine wickets, Bermuda by eight wickets, Argentina by nine wickets and the Cayman Islands by 10 wickets.
Medium-pacer Maninder Aulakh was the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 12 while Daren Ramsamy won the Best Wicketkeeper award. All-rounder Akash Shah, who took six wickets for just three runs off 3.1 overs, including a hat-trick against the Bahamas, finished the series with eight wickets.
Canada, along with the United States, Afghanistan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia and host country Ireland will compete in the global qualifier.