Canada has the chance to put one foot in the final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup if it can secure victory over Bermuda in the four-day encounter that starts in Toronto on Saturday.

If John Davison's side can win the match with maximum points it will give Canada 40 points from two matches after its 25-run success against Kenya less than two weeks ago.

That earlier result appears to have put the Africans out of contention as it is still pointless following its earlier draw with the Netherlands.

And with Bermuda and the Netherlands, the other sides in Group B, still to play each other Canada has a golden opportunity to pile the pressure on its rivals.

The home side's coach Andy Pick refused to get carried away with the prospect of a place in the final with his side just one match into the tournament but he admitted: 'This match is crucial for us.

'If we can get another win here we will go away from home to face the Netherlands with the pressure on them to beat us rather than the other way around.

'If we beat Bermuda we would make that away trip possibly only needing first innings points against the Dutch while they would have to beat us and Bermuda to remain in contention.'

For now, of course, those scenarios are nothing more than wishful thinking for Pick because he knows that, starting on Saturday, his players face a tough examination.

And the coach is demanding more from his players - much more.

'I was pleased to win on the last afternoon after four days of hard cricket in 40 degree temperatures and that was a credit to the players,' said Pick.

'But we need more consistency from everyone, especially in the batting, as we surrendered a great position in the second innings by collapsing to allow Kenya back into the match.'

Against the Africans Canada were indebted to Qaiser Ali (91 not out) and Geoff Barnett (136) with the bat while left-armer Umar Bhatti who, like Ali, attended the ICC Winter Training Camp last year, captured 10-147 in the match.

Pick's search for batting consistency will be helped by the return of Ian Billcliff, who missed the Kenya match because of work commitments. He replaces the veteran former Sri Lanka international Pubudu Dassanayaka.

In one other change Haninder Dhillon, sidelined with a groin injury, has been replaced by all-rounder Abdool Samad, a 27 year-old right-hander who was part of Canada's ICC Cricket World Cup (ICC CWC) squad in 2003.

Canada comes into this match off the back of two disappointing ODI defeats against Kenya that followed the four-day triumph and its players will also know the last time they faced Bermuda, in a ODI in Trinidad in May, they lost in a low-scoring contest.

Those facts will be sources of encouragement for Bermuda, as will the knowledge it beat Canada in the corresponding ICC Intercontinental Cup match last year, en route to a place in the semi-finals.

Since then things have not always gone according to plan for the side coached by former West Indies batsman Gus Logie with an embarrassing exit at the hands of Jamaica in the Stanford 20/20 tournament in Antigua causing some concern less than a year from next year's ICC CWC in the Caribbean.

The good news for Bermuda is that veteran former captain Clay Smith, a talismanic figure with the bat, has recovered sufficiently from a long-term knee injury to take his place in the squad.

Smith proved his fitness for club side St George's earlier this month in the annual two-day Cup match against local rivals Somerset but Irving Romaine has been named as captain.

Bermuda's batting strength in recent times has been in its middle order with Smith, wicketkeeper Dean Minors and the big-hitting Lionel Cann forming an effective spine for the team; the challenge now is for the top order - players like Stephen Outerbridge and OJ Pitcher - to come to the party.

17 year-old all-rounder Malachi Jones has been included in the squad which is likely to rely on left-arm spinner Dwayne Leverock - the leading wicket-taker in last year's competition - and fast bowler George O'Brien Junior for a cutting edge with the ball.

Group A is already shaping up as a battle of the two previous tournament winners with both the 2004 champions Scotland and last year's winners Ireland, off to winning starts, each with a victory over Namibia in May. The other side in that group, the United Arab Emirates, is yet to start its campaign.

The final, set to take place in the first half of 2007, will be between the two group winners.

A new format this year means sides will play a minimum of three four-day matches in this tournament, increasing to seven four-day matches in 2007 and 2008 when the event will be a full round-robin format.

That compares to a minimum of just two three-day matches per year under the previous structure which, until the semi-finals, was regionally-based rather than global.

The ICC Intercontinental Cup began in 2004 to give the leading players from Associate sides the chance to improve by exposing them to a longer form of the game.

After the ICC Intercontinental Cup match, the two sides play two ODIs against each other, on 19 and 21 August, with the second of them the opening match in this year's World Cricket League Americas Division 1.

Canada (from): John Davison (captain), Qaiser Ali, Ashish Bagai (wicketkeeper), Geoff Barnett, Umar Bhatti, Ian Billcliff, Sunil Dhaniram, Stewart Heaney, Don Maxwell, Henry Osinde, Naresh Patel, Puvendran Ravishankar, Abdool Samad.

Bermuda (from): Irving Romaine (captain), Delyone Borden, Lionel Cann, Hasan Durham, Kevin Hurdle, Malachi Jones, Dwayne Leverock, Dean Minors (wicketkeeper), Saleem Mukuddem, George O'Brien Jnr, Stephen Outerbridge, OJ Pitcher, Clay Smith, Ryan Steede, Janeiro Tucker.