Buoyed by their CWC Qualifier Playoff March 27, 2023, opening match win against Jersey, Canada’s National Men’s cricketers went a step further two days later with a morale-boosting 26run victory over their USA arch-rivals. Dismissed for an inadequate first-strike total of 198 in 49.4 overs, Canada’s bowling unit, however, came to the fore in defending the total resolutely. To such an extent that the hapless USA batsmen were themselves dismantled, eventually falling short of their 199-victory target by as many as 26 runs.
The Canadian victory outcome had seemed to be the much less likely of the two concluding scenarios during the early stages of the match. As they had done against Jersey just two days before, Canada’s top-order batting again faltered badly, even more so to the USA’s opening bowlers, spearheaded as they were by the world-class Ali Khan.
Pargat Singh lasted only three balls before he was bowled by Khan without scoring. Matthew Spoors, batting at three, was marginally more successful. He faced five balls in scoring four, before Khan had him caught behind by wicket-keeper Shayan Jahangir.
1/0 at the loss of Singh’s wicket in the second over quickly became 2-8 after 3.2 as a result of Spoor’s departure. That wobbly scoreline became even more precarious when first-match, half-centurion, hero Srimantha Wijeyeratne was trapped lbw for just 1 by Khan’s opening-attack partner Saurabh Netravalkar. That left the Canadians tottering at 3-9 after only five (4.6) overs.
Opener Aaron Johnson watched with increasing dismay the rapid departures of his fellow numbers 2, 3 and 4 top-order batsmen from the non-striker’s end. He, however, then fashioned an innings credibility-restoring 75run partnership for the fourth wicket with Nicholas Kirton who batted at five.
Johnson fell for 47, with the score on 84, just three short of what would have been a most deserving half-century. He was followed eleven runs later by Kirton for 35, both falling victim to the USA’s left-arm spinner Nisarg Patel.
95-5 in 25.4 overs very quicky became 98-6 in 26.6 as a result of the Jersey Man-of-the Match Nikhil Dutta’s failure to trouble the scorers. Departing as he did for a 6ball duck.
Middleman Harsh Thaker, however, yet again came to the rescue with his calm and assured batting in the face of unfolding crisis. Thaker scored 47 and in partnership with skipper Saad Bin Zafar added 48 crucial runs for the seventh wicket. Zafar’s 11 runs contribution to the partnership was as important as it was minimal.
Ravinderpaul Singh then played a 25ball 26run cameo that gave the innings some vitally needed late overs momentum. Kaleem Sana also struck some lusty blows, including a six and a four, in his 16 as the Canadian innings closed on 198 all out after 49.4 overs.
For the USA, Saurabh Netravalkar 2/24-10, Nisarg Patel 2/36-10 and Ali Khan 2/41-9.4 were the main wicket-takers. Having dismissed half of the Canadian batting order for 95, USA’s captain Monank Patel and his bowling unit would, however, have been rueing their failure to set themselves a much lower victory target than the eventual 199.
As it turned out that 199, became a mountain too high for the USA’s batsmen to conquer. As he has so often
done before, Kaleem Sana struck early having opener Salteja Mukhamalia well caught behind by wicket-keeper
Wijeyeratne for 1 to leave the USA at 1-1 in the third over.
From 1-1 the USA slipped further to 20-2 after 7.1 overs, when Harsh Thaker had their captain Maonak
Patel brilliantly caught by Aaron Johnson diving forward at slip. Johnson, however, later spilled a much easier
chance by failing to hold on to the innings’ eventual top-scorer Sushant Modani’s edged offering from Nikhil
Having scored only 26 when he was dropped by Johnson, Modani added a further 38 before becoming
Sana’s second victim, very sharply caught by skipper Zafar at short-midwicket for 64. Modani may have
benefitted from the umpire’s benevolence, however, as the Canadians were convinced he’d been caught behind off Pargat Singh’s very first ball by which time he’d only progressed to 33.
Riding on his good fortune, Modani added 35 for the third wicket with Aaron Jones
16 before the latter became Thaker’s second victim. Modani also featured in a fourth
wicket partnership of 26 with Gajanand Singh (11) who was trapped lbw by his Canadian
4-81 off 25.3 overs soon became 5-96 in 28.5 and 6-120 in 34.1 overs as Canadian
captain Saad Bin Zafar spun his leg-spin magic in capturing 3/43 off his ten overs.
That spell effectively broke the back of the “American Resistance,” and although the
remaining four wickets did add a further 52 runs, the eventual result was never in much
doubt as the Canadians resolutely stuck to the task of pressing home the advantage and
securing mot welcome, morale boosting and thoroughly deserving victory.
Kaleem Sana 3/14-9, Saad Bin Zafar 3/43-10 and Harsh Thaker 2/30 -10 were the
main Canadian wicket-takers. Pargat Singh 1/22-6 and Jeremy Gordon 1/29-4.3 both
chipped in with a solitary wicket each.
Canada 198/10-49.4 ovrs Aaron Johnson 47, Harsh Thaker 43, Nicholas Kirton 35.
Saurabh Netravalkar 2/24-10, Nisarg Patel 2/36-10, Ali Khan 2/41-9.4
USA 172/10-47.3 ovrs. Sushant Modani 64, Nosthush Kenjige 28. Kaleem Sana 3/14-9,
Saad Bin Zafar 3/43-10, Harsh Thaker 2/30 -10.
CANADA WON BY 27 RUNS.