The often-quoted assertion that “Cream always rises to the top” has long since become universally accepted as one of life’s truisms. Its validity was certainly in evidence on Day Two of the three days, September 13-15, 2021 Canadian National Men’s T20 Championships being played at King City’s Maple Leaf Cricket Club, as no fewer than four of Canada’s established star players were among the day’s outstanding performers.

Canadian National team “regulars” Rayyan Pathan (72), Ravinderpal Singh (56) Saad Bin Zafar (53) and Rodrigo Thomas (50) all scored highly entertaining half-centuries for their respective teams. There were also similar scores from the slightly less famous Bhupinder Singh (54) and Aaditya Vardarajan (53) on a day that was dominated by some outstanding batting.

As Fire’s captain, Canadian National all-rounder Saad Bin Zafar, got the day’s proceedings off to an entertaining start with a belligerent 35 ball 53 that included 3 fours and 4 sixes. Zafar’s knock piloted his team to 131/5 off its 20 overs in the day’s opening encounter against the Shields.

Chasing 132 for victory at a required run rate of 6.6 runs per over, his fellow National team all-rounder Rayyan Pathan was even more aggressive at the top of the Shields batting order. Pathan blasted his way to a 73 ball 38, that was punctuated by 7 sixes and 5 fours. His pyrotechnics was the backbone of the Shields’ cruise-controlled response of 132/4 in just 16.5 overs and a most comfortable six wicket win

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SUMMARIZED SCORES:
FIRE 131/5 (20 Ovrs), Saad Zafar 53, Uvin Bandara 26
SHIELDS 132/4 (16.5 Ovrs) Rayyan Pathan 73.
Shields won by 6 wickets.

Match 2 of the second day, featuring Fury against the Stallions and which was played simultaneously with the first on an adjacent pitch, was yet another low-scoring but highly exciting encounter. Batting first Fury was bundled out for under a hundred, losing all ten of their wickets for just 93 in 18.5 overs of woeful batting. Seven batsmen failed to score while two, Hamza Tariq (39) and Nikhil Dutta (36), accounted for almost 80% of the eventual total. Bowling for the Shields, Junaid Siddiqui 3/20-4, Shahid Ahmadzai 2/14-4, and Rommel Shahzad 2/22-3.5 were the main wicket-takers.
Incredibly Fury’s posted 83/10 proved to be sufficient as the Stallions’ batsmen were, unbelievably, even more woeful in response all ten of their wickets falling for just 88 to lose by 5 runs. That result had hardly seemed possible after the Stallions’ opening pair of Shreyas Movva (24) and Hiral Patel (21) had posted 46 for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed.

From 46-1 in the ninth over, the remainder of the innings, however, became a procession as the remaining nine wickets fell for just an additional 42 runs. Darshil Patel 4/8-3 and Salman Nazar 3/18-4 were the chief destroyers for the rampant Fury’s bowling attack.

SUMMARIZED SCORES:
FURY 93/10 (18.5 Ovrs) Hamza Tariq 39, Nikhil Dutta 36; Junaid Siddiqui 3/20-4, Shahid Ahmadzai 2/14-4, Rommel Shahzad 2/22-3.5.
STALLIONS 88/10 (19.3 Ovrs) Shreyas Movva 24, Hiral Patel 21; Darshil Patel 4/8-3, Salman Nazar 3/18-4.
Fury won by 5 runs.

Fresh from their exciting and unexpected 5 run victory over the Stallions, Fury continued its winning ways with a far more emphatic 9 wicket win over Fire in the third match of the day. Fire batting first was dismissed for 130 in 19.4 overs. Opening batsman Aaditya Vardarajan scored a 48 ball 53 at the top of the order, while captain Saad Bin Zafar (27) and veteran T20 specialist Rizwan Cheema (24) were both typically aggressive in their respective knocks of 12 and 19 balls. Varun Sehdev 2/17-3, Salman Nazar 2/19 -4 and Nikhil Dutta 2/37-4 all had two-wicket hauls for Fury.

Chasing 131 for victory, at a 6.55 required run rate, Fury reached its target with consummate ease for the loss of just one wicket. Canada’s National opening bat, Rodrigo Thomas, was at his majestic best in compiling a 32 ball 50 that was graced with 7 silky driven fours and one towering six. Thomas was eventually given out, stumped by wicket-keeper Nicholas Manohar off the bowling of Aaditya Vardarajan. Ruvindu Gunasekera (39) and Hamza Tariq (33), however, then combined for an unbeaten 46 six-run second-wicket partnership to see Fury to victory by 9 wickets.

SUMMARIZED SCORES:
FIRE 130/10 (19.4 Ovrs)Aaditya Vardarajan 53. Saad Bin Zafar 27, Rizwan Cheema 24; Varun Sehdev 2/17-3, Salman Nazar 2/19-4, Nikhil Dutta 2/37 -4.
FURY 136/1. RODRIGO THOMAS 50, RUVINDU Gunasekera 39, Hamza Tariq 33.
Fury won by 9 wickets.

The fourth and final match of the Championships’ Day Two, featuring the Shields and the Stallions, was a virtual nail-biter. Stallions eventually prevailed by 5 wickets, but with only three balls to spare.
Batting first the Shields reached 131/6 off its 20 overs, largely due to Bhupinder Singh’s 48 ball 54 and Yasir Abbasi’s run-a-ball 46. Junaid Siddiqui 3/30-4 was the Stallions’ main wicket-taker.
In reply Ravinderpaul Singh’s unbeaten, belligerent, boundary-studded 49 ball 64 which included 5 fours and 2 sixes, was sufficient to take the Stallions to 132/5 off 19.3 overs. Victory to the “Horseys” by 5 wickets, albeit with only three balls to spare!

SUMMARIZED SCORES:
SHIELDS 131/6 (20.0 Ovrs) Bhupinder Singh 54, Yasir Abbasi 46; Junaid Siddiqui 3/30-4,
STALLIONS 132/5 Ravinderpal Singh 64, Udaybir Singh Walia 23; Arshdeep Dhaliwal 2/28-4.
Stallions won by 5 wickets.
The Championships will conclude on Wednesday, September 15 with four final day matches. Fire vs Stallions and Fury vs Shields both starting at 10.30 am. Fire vs Shields and Fury vs Stallions starting at 2:30 pm.