Class act by young Canucks - From the Star




Cricketers meet Bermuda in final of Americas Cup Bastiampillai's 87, tight bowling seal win over the U.S.

Canada's under-19 cricket squad will not have to face the same financial headaches that the senior team encountered when it qualified for the World Cup tournament in South Africa earlier this year.

The junior squad is one win away from qualifying for the Youth World Cup in Bangladesh next February after beating the United States by five wickets yesterday.

It was the team's third straight win in the five-nation Americas Cup qualifying championship at King City's Maple Leaf Cricket Club.

Last February Canada's senior team contemplated missing the World Cup because of financial woes, but the International Cricket Council will pick up the entire tab for Bangladesh. That includes airfares, hotel accommodation and per diems.

"That is certainly great news for our team,'' said Umar Bhatti, the 18-year-old captain of the Canadian team.

"Canada's national association will be responsible only for providing the team with clothing and equipment and for getting the team prepared,'' said Andrew Eade, the ICC's global development manager who is here for a meeting with the 14 members of the Cricket Council of the Americas.

Canada meets Bermuda in the final today with the upper hand as the islanders have already lost one match. In the event Canada loses, the host can still advance on superior run rate.

"(Qualification) has been our mission since the tournament started and I think we are the class act on this field,'' said Bhatti, a 6-foot-2 pace bowler.

Bhatti played much of his junior cricket for the Lahore Cricket Club in Pakistan and hero-worshipped Wasim Akram, one of the world's greatest seam bowlers.

"Wasim played for the same club and I watched him often. Hopefully I can some day be as good. My biggest ambition now is to represent Canada at senior level,'' added Bhatti, who like Wasim is a left-hander.

This Canadian squad is considered the finest the country has produced in several years with all nine Ontario members of the squad playing in the Toronto and District Premier Division, the country's top league.

Canada dismissed U.S. for 161, thanks to a fine spell of tight bowling by spinners Christian Rodrigo (two for 32), Shaheed Keshvani (three for 28) and Karun Jethi (two for 14).

Opening batsman Gavin Bastiampillai then carried his bat for a superb 87 off 109 balls, which included six fours and a six as Canada made 162 for five off 40 overs.

Bermuda thrashed a hapless Argentina by 302 runs. Opener Dion Stovell plundered 204 runs as Bermuda reached 364 for five and then dismissed Argentina for 62.

Stovell's knock off only 179 balls was laced with 22 fours and two sixes.