Know Your Opponent: Canada

ICC/CN
Nepal takes on Canada in the final match of ICC World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday at Hagley Oval. While Nepal is already knocked out of the tournament Canada who have lost two matches still have a mathematical chance of making it to the top six. Nepal’s coach Pubudu Dassanayeke is Canada’s former player and Coach.

Canada finished runner-up in the ICC CWCQ 2009, but will go into this tournament with some catching up to do, having won one of 14 matches in the ICC WCLC 2011-13. Canada ran Afghanistan close in its first two matches in August 2011, with Hiral Patel performing well with bat and ball – scoring 62 and 45 as well as taking four for 28 in the first of the meetings.

Both games were impacted by rain as Afghanistan proved too strong on each occasion. Comprehensive defeats followed against Ireland before Canada’s solitary victory was achieved next up against Namibia. Attacking batsman Jimmy Hansra – who had also made a mark in Canada’s appearance at the ICC CWC 2011 – scored 49 to help his side win a low-scoring match by two runs.

Canada’s two-year campaign included some hard luck with the weather during the first match in the Netherlands. Requiring 144 in 28 overs, Canada reached 62 for one in reply, before the rain returned to force a no result. That was almost as many as the whole team managed in the second match of the double header, bowled out for 67 to suffer a nine-wicket loss.

Patel finished as his side’s leading run-scorer with 319 runs at an average of 26.58, followed by youngster Ruvindu Gunasekera, who hit 289 runs, including four half-centuries. Rizwan Cheema was his side’s stand-out bowler, claiming 18 wickets to finish as the wicket-taker in the tournament. The medium pacer struggled for support however, with Junaid Siddiqui the only other Canadian bowler to pick up as many as 10 wickets.

Hopes of a short format revival at the ICC WT20Q were not achieved, with the side winning two from eight matches to finish in 12th place.

Canada suffered a major setback in its first match when it lost to great rival USA with one ball to spare. That disappointment was nearly assuaged immediately with a gallant effort against eventual winner Ireland. Needing 169, Canada came up just short on 166 for three with Gunasekera (65 off 52 balls) and returning skipper Ashish Bagai (67 not out off 55 balls) leading the charge. Canada’s victories came against Uganda and Italy, before the side lost to Kenya in the 11th place play-off.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Rizwan Cheema

Rizwan Cheema has carved a career out as a big-hitting batsman, but it was his bowling that stood out in the ICC WCLC, where he took 18 wickets at an average of 19.27. The right-arm medium pacer’s stand-out performance came against Namibia when he took six for 34. Even so, it was not enough to prevent a 21-run defeat. His batting has been less effective in recent times but he did strike a half-century in the ICC WCLC match against Kenya in March 2013.

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