Canada lost three early wickets against North American rivals USA on Wednesday (29 March 2023) before battling to reach 198 all out. Canada then dismissed the USA for 172 to win by 26 and gained top spot in this World Cup Qualifier Playoff thanks to two wins from two games. Canada (W 2, L 0, Net Run Rate 0.570) remained at the top after Thursday’s games due to a better net run rate than hosts Namibia (W2, L 1, NRR 0.480) and USA (W2, L 1, NRR 0.404).
On Thursday (March 30) the UAE batted first and posted 279/9 from 50 overs against the USA. Asif Khan, batting at six, hit 103 from 84 balls but young Saiteja Mukkamalla, who will soon be 19 years old, lead the way for the USA with 120* from 114 balls. USA reached a winning 281/5 with six balls to spare. Also on Thursday, Jersey posted 213/9 from 50 overs and took 2 early wickets against Namibia but the third wicket pairing of Michael van Lingen and captain Gerhard Erasmus blazed to victory with an unbroken third wicket stand of 198. Erasmus ended on 88* and Erasmus 110* (93 balls).
This Saturday (1 April) Canada faces UAE (Won 1, Lost 1, NRR 0.137) in a vital match for both teams. A win would put Canada in a strong position with 3 wins from 3 matches in a tournament where the top two from the five competing teams advance to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe (starts June 18, 2023). The UAE, who played in World Cricket League 2 will be keen to retain their place in that league and the related ODI status via a top two place in this tournament. On Sunday (April 2) Namibia is due to play the UAE and the USA face Papua New Guinea (currently Played 2, Lost 2, NRR -0.690).
Canada is scheduled to play hosts Namibia on Tuesday (April 4) in what is likely to be a vital game for both teams. Canada’s last game is scheduled for Wednesday (April 5) against Papua New Guinea (currently Played 2, Lost 2, NRR -0.690).
Harsh Thaker Prominent Against USA
On Wednesday, Canadian opening bat Aaron Johnson held firm in the early going against the USA with 47 runs from 52 balls. Johnson gained support from Nicholas Kirton in a fourth wicket stand of 73 that ended with Johnson was caught off the bowling of Nisarg Patel. USA battled back to gain the upper hand as Kirton was caught at the wicket by off Nisarg Patel for 35 (Canada 95/5, 25.4 overs) and new batter Nikhil Dutta soon fell, caught by wicketkeeper Shayan Jehangir bowling off Jasdeep Singh for a duck. Dutta, who has worked his way up from junior days in the Toronto & District Cricket Association (T&DCA) had been Canada’s Player of the Match against Jersey. Harsh Thaker, another player who has learned and progressed via the T&DCA, helped rebuild the Canadian innings against the USA with a patient innings of 43 (73 balls, 1×4, 2x6s). Canadian captain Saad bin Zafar made 11 before being caught off Kenjige (146/7, 40.2 overs). Thaker was run out at the end of the 44 th over, departing with Canada on 171/8 after adding 25 runs with Ravinderpal Singh.
Kaleem Sana then provide useful support for Ravinderpal Singh in a stand that ended when Singh caught off the bowling of Netravalkar at the start of the 49 th over: Canada 189/9. Ravinderpal Singh had scored a useful 26 runs from 25 balls. Kaleem Sana struck a boundary and a six before Canada’s innings ended at 198 after 49.4 overs when Jeremy Gordon was run out. Kaleem Sana scored 16 not out from 20 balls.
Kaleem Sana soon had Saiteja Mukkamalla caught at the wicket by Wijeyeratne for just 1 run after 2.4 overs. It was the only run the USA had posted on the board in the early going thanks to tight opening bowling. USA captain Mohank Patel hit 9 runs before being caught by Johnson after Harsh Thaker was brought into the Canadian attack. So the USA were on 20/2 after 7.1 overs and Canada was doing quite well defending a target of 199 from 50 overs.
Aaron Jones joined opener Sushant Modani in a promising stand, from a USA perspective, until Jones was caught by Johnson for 16 (27 balls) off Thaker’s bowling with 55 runs on the board. Gajanand Singh, who struck 53 in USA’s opening game win against host Namibia, made 11 (27 balls) before being trapped LBW to Pargat Singh. The USA were now 81/4 from 25.3 overs. Shyan Jahangir was then bowled for 10 by Canadian captain Saad bin Zafar. USA had reached 96/5 from 28.5 overs compared with Canada’s 95/5 after 25.4 overs.
The batters were mostly struggling in this match, but If USA opener Sushant Modani could keep ticking along or increase his scoring rate, then with support from the other batters the USA could be on a path to victory. Canada needed tight bowling, good fielding and some more USA wickets to defend the total of 198.
Modani plugged away until caught by Saad bin Zafar off the bowling of Kaleem Sana for 64, which left the USA on 154/8 after 44.1 overs. Nosthush Kenjige battled away to score 28 runs before being caught at the wicket off pacer Jeremy Gordon to end the game: USA 172 all out had lost to Canada’s 198 all out by 26 runs. Kaleem Sana had taken 3/14 from 9 overs to lead the way for Canada’s bowlers. Canadian captain Saad bin Zafar picked up 3/43 from 10 overs. Harsh Thaker took 2/30 from 10 overs and Nikhil Dutta was economical, conceding 23 runs from 8 overs.
So Canada had won two out of two with three matches to play, beginning with the match against UAE on Saturday. Three wins out of three would put Canada in a strong position.
UAE – Some Recent Background
The UAE has relied on individual efforts with the bat rather than steady contributions down the batting order have carried the UAE to 260/7 (50 overs) against Papua New Guinea and 279/9 (50 overs) against the USA.
The UAE placed 6th out of 7 in World Cricket League 2 (WCL2) and came into this World Cup Qualifier Playoff with significant recent match practice, including 8 WCL2 matches in late February and March.
UAE also played three T20 internationals against Afghanistan in early February 2023 before playing 8 World Cricket League Division 2. UAE ended up in 6 th place in the 7 team WCL Division 2. Only the two three in WCL Division 2 automatically qualified for this year’s World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Scotland, Oman and Nepal were the top three, pushing Namibia, USA, UAE and Papua New Guinea into this current World Cup Qualifier Playoff tournament to join Challenge League A winners Canada and Challenge League B winners Jersey.
The UAE’s recent record has included several games where the runs have flowed from both UAE batters and opposition bats. By contrast, there have been games where the UAE batting failed, usually resulted in losses. One recent exception in Dubai saw UAE squeeze to victory with 95/9 (28.2 overs) after bowling out Namibia for 91. A few days later UAE struggled to 166/9 after 50 overs and Namibia romped to victory with 167/3 after 28.2 overs.
Eddie Norfolk, Toronto, March 31, 2023