By Nita Balani
TORONTO: The UAE visiting team proved to be too strong for the Canadian team on home turf. Of course, like all cricket tournaments this summer, rain played havoc on the pitch and grounds at King City and the first day of the 4-day Intercontinental Cup was a wash-out.
In addition, the match had more than half a day delay on day 2. The 4 day match standings were UAE 1st innings 116 all out, UAE continued with 207 for 4.Canada showed some prowess by knocking up an impressive 368 runs. The 4 –day ended in a draw.
It was only a matter of time before the UAE visitors under Skipper Khurram Khan left the Canadians in the dust. The 4-day match gave UAE a chance to get to know the Canadian pitch, the Canadian bowlers and how to fine tune their strategy to propel them to a sweeping win over the week of play. The pitch at King City gave the UAE spin bowlers an advantage for the 50 over match and they restrained Canada to just 179 for 9.There were glints of victory in sight as some of the batsmen like Himal Patel reached an impressive 53, Limbada and Bagai also contributed 31 and 38 but the power batsmen Daesrath, Gunasekara, Cheema, and Hansra succumbed to the spin bowling and were restrained to single digits. Thus resulting in Canada obtaining a lower than normal score. In turn, Canada also tried to restrain the runs by using their pace and spin bowling but they were no match for UAE who comfortably reached 183 for 8 to win.
Speaking to Skipper Khurram Khan, on the difference in playing in Canada and back in UAE, he said ”Conditions were vastly different here – the grounds, the pitch and the poor audience turn out.” He went on to explain, “The team is not used to the 4-day format and the batsmen and bowlers needed more time to get used to the conditions” Khan has played Canada in 2001 and feels not much has changed in Canada since then.. “The UAE team is extremely strong with good batsmen, spin bowlers and all rounders so we are confident that we will do well in the T20” Khan’s cricket idols have been Brian Lara, Wasim Akram and Tendulkar amongst many who have shaped him as a cricketer.
In the T20 matches held at Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club (TCSCC), UAE dominated the scene by 2 great wins crushing the Canadians once again with spin strategy and smart fielding. In the first T20, opening batsman Mohammed Azam made an impression with his total of 70 before being bowled by Baidwan and caught by Limbada. UAE batsman Shaiman Anwar and Rohan Mustafa were both contained at 13 and 9 respectively to give UAE a total of 157.
Canada had a good start – with Gunasekera reaching 33 before being run out – but failed to keep up the run rate. It was disappointing and painful to see Cheema, Limbada, youngest team member Himal Patel, power striker and debutant Daesrath, all struggling to reach even double digits and thus the batting order crumbled rapidly after 34 in the first 6 overs and achieved a total of just 85. Left arm spinner Ahmed Raza and Shadeep Silva had magnificent bowling overs. In the second T20, UAE displayed complete mastery over their hosts and made 140 for 3 while the host team struggled with 137 for 7. The only noteworthy Canadian partnership was of 87 runs between Bagai and Raza-ur-Rehman. The rest of the batting order failed to bring up the total to a win.
Thus the visiting shaikhs of Dubai dominated the cricket scene over the week with sweeping wins in both the T20s as well as the World Cricket League Championship one day matches and went back richer than when they arrived. In retrospect, Canada needs to get their act together and play stronger as a team in the international matches and tighten up their fielding and practice more tactical play when faced against deadly spin bowlers. There were way too many dropped catches and slipped boundaries and not enough wickets and runs. We wish the team good luck for their upcoming encounter with the Netherlands team on Aug 22 – 29 at King City.