By RON FANFAIR
Canada, with a new captain and several newcomers, captured the inaugural Americas Cup Division One Twenty/20 title, winning all five matches in Florida.
With the majority of the senior players staying at home to prepare for matches against Afghanistan, the Jimmy Hansra-led team brushed aside top contenders the United States and Bermuda on their way to the title.
Coach Ingleton Liburd lauded his players’ impressive showing.
“We had a brief four-day camp before embarking on the tour where the guys worked hard and started to gel,” said Liburd, a former national captain. “The effort carried over in the tournament. I did not know some of the players and their capabilities because they were out of province, but once I figured things out, everybody played their role superbly.”
Liburd singled out the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Khusroo Wadia, leg-spinner Junaid Siddiqui and medium-pacer Satsimranjit Dhindsa as players who can contend for places on the national team.
Wadia, who opens the batting for Toronto Cricket Club, was the tournament’s second leading scorer with 180 runs (av. 45). He was just one of four batsmen to surpass the 100-run mark, scoring 75 retired hurt off 56 balls in Canada’s final match against Suriname last Saturday.
Siddiqui and Dhindsa each picked up eight wickets. Veteran left-arm spinner Zahid Hussain was the second top wicket-taker with nine (av. 5), including 4-7 off four overs in the Cayman Islands contest.
Canada defeated the Cayman Islands by 64 runs; Argentina by nine wickets with five balls to spare in a match reduced to eight overs because of rain; Bermuda by 15 runs; the USA by 10 runs and Suriname by 61 runs.
The Americans finished second followed by Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Suriname and winless Argentina.
International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas manager Martin Vieira was also impressed with the Canadians performance.
“They might not have been the most talented team, but they played as a cohesive unit and showed they were excited to be there and wanted to win,” he said.