NIKHIL DUTTA
NIKHIL DUTTA

Nikhil Dutta excluded from Americas squad

By Admin Wednesday October 14 2015 in Sports
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Adversity is part of life and overcoming it could be challenging.

Learning to deal with setbacks, however, builds character and makes one stronger and hungrier.

Time will tell if Canadian youth cricketer Nikhil Dutta is up to the test after being surprisingly excluded from the Americas’ 15-member squad named for next January’s West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Nagico Super 50 tournament.

Considered the best young spinner in the region, Dutta – who turned 21 last Tuesday – failed to impress the selectors in the second phase of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas Combine in Indianapolis last month.

He and Jamaican-born American wicketkeeper/batsman Steven Taylor – who made the squad – were the only two young Americas players to participate in this year’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty/20 competition.

“It’s unfortunate that he didn’t make the final cut,” said former Canadian player Derek Perera who, with West Indies cricket selector Courtney Walsh, American fielding expert Mike Young, former Indian spinner Venkatapathy Raju and USA Under-19 coach Thiru Kumaran, selected the squad. “To be fair to the other selectors, he wasn’t at his best in the second set of trials and I believe that had to do with the wickets that were not helpful to the finger spinners.”

Dutta, who had an outstanding Twenty/20 debut, bowling former England batsman and St. Lucia Zouks captain Kevin Pietersen for 18 and finishing with 2-32 off his allotted four overs, is a member of the Ontario Cricket Academy & Club established by Perera in 2002.

“Nikhil has been with me for the last 13 years, I know what he’s capable of and I am always in his corner,” said Perera. “He’s one of the hardest workers I know and he will bounce back from this setback. He’s disappointed, of course, because he really wanted to be in the touring party.”

Originally excluded from the Combine’s second phase, Dutta was added after Cricket Canada – which had revoked the player’s “No Objection Certificate” to compete in the CPL after his third match with the new St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots franchise – sent an e-mail to the ICC recommending his inclusion.

The CPL clashed with the ICC Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in which Dutta was selected to represent Canada. After initially expressing a desire to stay with the Patriots, Dutta changed his mind following a meeting with Cricket Canada’s general manager, Ingleton Liburd, who was in St. Kitts at the time for his daughter’s graduation. Despite the change of heart, Dutta was replaced by Hiral Patel for the Twenty/20 qualifier.

Jeremy Gordon, who represented Guyana at the senior level before migrating to the Greater Toronto Area, is among six Canadians in the Americas squad that arrives in Trinidad & Tobago on January 4.

“He was the fastest bowler in the first phase of the Combine,” said national youth coach, Errol Barrow, who was at that Combine. “He missed the first two days because he played for 2015 champions Brampton Masters in the Toronto & District Cricket Association (TDCA) Elite league competition. When he arrived, he impressed with his pace.”

A total of 83 players – 15 of them Canadian – from five countries, including the United States, Bermuda, Argentina and the Cayman Islands, participated in the first phase of the trial.

Based on performance, eight members from this group were invited to join 21 players fast-tracked into the second phase.

Toronto Cricket Club wicketkeeper/batsman Srimantha Wijeratne, who also missed the first two days of the first Combine because of TDCA club commitments, openers Nitish Kumar and Ruvindu Gunasekera, all-rounder Navneet Dhaliwal and wicketkeeper Hamza Tariq are the other Canadians in the Americas side.

The rest of the squad comprises Americans Timroy Allen, Daniel Ahmed, Alex Amsterdam, Akeem Dodson, Muhammad Ghous, Ali Khan, Timil Patel and Hammad Shahid.

ICC Americas High Performance consultant Tom Evans said there is an abundance of young talent in the region.

“We are looking forward to helping the players selected, and those that missed out this time, continue to improve,” he said.

The Americas is in the same group with host country Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and the Combined Campuses & Colleges. The teams will play each other twice prior to the semifinals which begin on January 21.

The 50-overs tournament starts on January 7.

Meanwhile, the United States, Ireland, Nepal, Uganda and Papua Guinea will take part in an Under-19 World Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur from October 15-22. The winner will join Canada, Afghanistan, Fiji, Namibia, Scotland and the 10 Test-playing nations in the 11th youth World Cup from January 22 to February 14 in Bangladesh.

By RON FANFAIR

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