National youth coach Ingleton Liburd has high expectations for Canada at next month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Skipper Nitish Kumar and all-rounder Nikhil Dutta are in New Zealand with the senior side competing for a place in the 2015 World Cup and Canada’s first match in next month’s junior World Cup is against Zimbabwe.
In its last appearance in 2010, Canada’s juniors defeated Zimbabwe by 10 runs to record its first victory in the competition. The national side ended the tournament with a two-wicket victory in the 11th place play-off match.
“We have a few things working in our favour heading into the tournament,” said Liburd who is Cricket Canada’s domestic development manager and a former national captain. “Nitish has been with the senior team for just over four years while Nikhil made his first-class debut in March 2013. We are counting on them to lead the way with assistance from other players who have been key members of the national junior team in the last few years.
“With eight members playing in last year’s West Indies youth tournament, this is the best available team that we can put on the field and they are being counted on to do well in this global tournament that’s a stepping stone for young players.”
Kumar scored his maiden first-class century against the United Arab Emirates in August 2013 while Dutta was the most valuable player in last year’s America’s regional tournament and World Cup qualifier at King City.
Joining them in next month’s World Cup are Arman Kapoor, Stephan Joseph, Anikit Joshi, Abraash Khan, Stephan Rajasingham, Yug Rao, Tala Sheikh and Keenen Tinto of Ontario; Sudeepta Aurka and Farhan Malik of Alberta; Gurkaran Dhillon of British Columbia and Trevor Manoosingh of Manitoba.
After the opening game against Zimbabwe on February 14, Canada faces tough tests against South Africa on February 16 and the West Indies two days later.
“Those are going to be two rough matches, but we have to go in there and compete as hard as possible,” Liburd said. “We do not intend to be intimidated by any opponent.”
The national squad, managed by Cricket Canada’s junior co-ordinator Wijay Senathirajah, leaves on February 1.
Canada, Afghanistan, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and host country the United Arab Emirates and the 10 Full Member nations will compete in 48 matches to be staged across seven venues in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.
The 16 teams are split into four groups and the top two will advance to the quarter finals. The other two sides from each group will participate in the Plate Championship quarter finals.
Led by an unbeaten 82 off 99 balls by the recently retired Ashish Bagai, Canada tied with Bangladesh in its first appearance in the tournament 12 years ago.
Canada has just two victories in 18 matches – there are two no results along with the tie – in its previous three World Cup outings.
Australia and India have each won the tournament, which started in 1988, three times.