By having emerged as points-table topping champions at the
conclusion of the Malaysia-hosted ICC Challenge League A
final round, the third of three that were held altogether, the
Canadian Men’s National Cricket team has now edged one step
closer to fulfilling its ultimate objective of qualifying for participation
at the 2023 50Over World Cup. The Canadians will now progress
to the next stage of qualification, the six-team Qualifier Playoff to
be played in Namibia next March. The top two teams from which
will progress to the third and final Cricket World Cup Qualifier in
Canada completed its fifteen matches of the Challenge League A
three rounds with an impressive record of 27 points from 13 wins
and just 1 loss. Second placed Denmark were some distance behind
with 17 points accumulated after its record of 8 wins, 6 losses and
1 no result.
The Canadian’s Malaysian success can be equally attributed to the
outstanding efforts of both its bowlers and batsmen. And most
obviously, of course, to the superb coaching provided by their
recently appointed Head Coach, Pubudu Dassanayake.
Cricket matches it has been said are won by bowlers but saved by
batsmen. Malaysia may have been a verification of that sentiment as
the Canadian bowling, led as it was by Kaleem Sana, was at times
irrepressible to their opponents’ batsmen.
Sana had two five-wicket hauls in the four matches he played during
the tournament. His 5/27-9.2 overs in Canada’s December 3 match
against Qatar was followed by an even more outstanding 5/22-6
overs in the final match against Malaysia that was played nine days
later. Sana also took 2/15-5 against Singapore on December 5 and came close to registering
yet another fiver falling just one short in capturing 4/13-7 against Denmark three days after.
Sana ended the tournament as the top wicket-taker with 16 wickets taken at an average of
4.81 and at a 2.82 economy rate.
Sana was ably supported by Canada’s spin twins, wrist spinner captain Saad Bin Zafar and
off-spinner Nikhil Dutta. Zafar’s 8 tournament wickets were taken at an average of 8.38
with a 2.54 economy rate. Dutta’s identical tally of 8 wickets were captured at a slightly
higher 11.38 average, with his economy rate at 3.19.
Among the Canadian batsmen, wicket-keeper-opener Srimanthe Wijeyeratne was the
most outstanding with an aggregate of 153 runs from four innings batted including two
half-centuries. Wijeyeratne ended the tournament as the leading run-scorer although his
average of 37.75 did not achieve similar heights. He was also the leading wicket-keeper with
7 dismissals behind the stumps.
Nicholas Kirton with a 53.00 average from his 106 runs scored in just three innings batted
and Harsh Thaker, 105 – 4 innings; average 35.00, were the only other two Canadian
batsmen with over 100run aggregates at the end of the tournament. All the other top-order
batsmen, particularly Aaron Johnson, Pargat Singh and Ravinderpal Singh, will
consider themselves as having had a somewhat disappointing tournament.
The Canadian team played as a well-oiled, cohesive unit throughout the tournament.
A reflection again of the excellent coaching they received and well as Zafar’s provided
leadership, often from the front with crucial batting cameos and influential wicket-taking
One hurdle successfully overcome, a second hopefully to be followed by a third and final
now ahead in the New Year for the Canadian National Men’s team in its 2023 ICC World
Cup Qualification quest. A quest that should now deservedly have the full support and best
wishes from each and every member of the Canadian cricket community.