With opener Ruvindu Gunasekera paving the way, Canada retained the Auty Cup and swept aside the United States in two Twenty/20 cricket matches last weekend at Maple Leaf ground in King City.
Led by the left-handed batsman who scored 72 off 164 balls in the first innings and an unbeaten 100 off 93 balls in the second, Canada secured a first innings lead in the two-day match to hold on to the Auty Cup, which is the symbol of cricket supremacy between the North American neighbours.
Gunasekera and Trevin Bastiampillai provided a strong base in Canada’s first innings with an opening stand of 105 in 31 overs. Bastiampillai’s contribution was 55 off 91 balls with five boundaries. However, the home team lost its last nine wickets for 123 runs.
After restricting the visitors to 183 in 70.2 overs, the Canadians reached 168-2 in 31 overs when the match ended.
Gunasekera’s run production continued on Sunday with half-centuries – 58 off 50 balls and 73 off 42 balls – in his team’s five-wicket and 78-run victories over the visitors.
Cricket Canada’s domestic development manager, Ingleton Liburd, attributed Gunasekera’s success to new coach, Gus Logie.
“I think Gus work is finally paying off with some of the young players like Ruvindu,” said Liburd. “He’s learning to build an innings and occupy the crease for longer periods.”
The 50-over game between the two teams was called off on Saturday because of heavy rain after Canada posted 252 in 49 overs. Former Guyana middle-order batsman, Damodhar Daesrath, belted six sixes and seven boundaries in his sparkling innings of 109 while Ashish Bagai scored 56. The pair put on 148 in 29.2 overs for the fourth wicket.
The national team, meanwhile, is seeking to break a 17-game winless streak in the four-day Intercontinental Cup competition when it meets the United Arab Emirates (UAE), starting today in King City.
It was against the same country that Canada last tasted success in this form of the game, demolishing the tourists by an innings and 228 runs at the same venue six years ago.
Canada is in the cellar in the eight-team 2011-13 tournament with 10 points while the UAE is second to last with 33 points. Both teams have played five matches.
Following the four-day contest, the teams will compete in two World Cricket League (WCL) 50-over matches at the same venue on August 6 and 8. The WCL is a World Cup qualifier for International Cricket Council (ICC) Associate and Affiliate members and also an opportunity for them to play regular one-day competitions against teams of similar standards.
Ireland has already qualified for the 2015 World Cup while the UAE, Scotland, the Netherlands and Afghanistan are vying for the second World Cup qualifying spot. With the top two WCL championship teams advancing to the World Cup, the six sides that do not qualify from this event will have a second chance to advance through next year’s ICC World Cup qualifier in New Zealand.
They will join Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Nepal and Uganda in a 10-team qualifier for the remaining two World Cup spots.
Canada is at the bottom of the WCL championship league table with three points from 10 matches while the UAE is two places ahead with 10 points from 10 games.
And eight Canadians are included in the Americas 14-member squad named to participate in the upcoming West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Under-19 tournament in St. Kitts later this month.
They are Armaan Kapoor, Muhammad Khan, Trevor Manoosingh, Stephan Rajasingham, Muhammad Malik, Sudeepta Aurka, Taiha Shaikh and Stephan Josephs.
Four Bermudans and two Americans are on the side that arrives on the Caribbean island on August 8 to prepare for the series. International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas Development Performance Officer Andy Pick is the coach.
The Americas will play Guyana on August 10, the Leeward Islands the following day, the Windwards on August 14, Trinidad & Tobago two days later, Barbados on August 18 and Jamaica on August 20.
The team was selected following the junior Americas Cup tournament and World Cup qualifier in King City last month. Canada won the competition to advance to next year’s World Cup in the UAE.