Bangladesh top Canada
Bangladesh wrapped up the Antigua tri-series today with a hard-fought 13 run win over Canada. After both teams had beaten Bermuda earlier in the week, the winner of this one would claim victory in the brief series, and in a match that was in the balance till the last few overs, the higher-ranked Bangladesh side picked up the win.
Canada won the toss, and invited Bangladesh to bat first. The day started well for the Canadian bowlers, as Tamim Iqbal was run out early, and both Shahriar Nafees and Aftab Ahmed were caught by wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai off the bowling of Anderson Cummins for ducks. At that point, Bangladesh were 30 for 3, and it looked as though it may be a short day. Coming in at number 4, Saqibul Hasan would prove the saviour for Bangladesh. He shared in two century partnerships - one with Habibul Bashar, one with Mohammad Ashraful - en route to a 134 not out. The Canadian bowling was reasonable, but gave up a lot of runs late in the innings. Anderson Cummins took 3 wickets - but at the cost of 60 runs. Umar Bhatti was the most economical, conceding just 35 runs off 9 overs, but was unable to claim any wickets. When the 50 overs had elapsed, Bangladesh had posted 278 runs for the loss of 5 wickets.
Canada struggled early in their innings, much like Bangladesh had earlier in the morning. First Abdool Samad had to retire hurt, and then Ashish Bagai was caught for no runs at deep third man by Mashrafe Mortaza. There was some concern that the ball Bagai went out on should have been a no ball for being too high, but no call was made and Bagai was gone. It was time for Canada to consolidate their innings, and it was the "Killer Bs" of Ian Billcliff and Geoff Barnett that would do just that. These two batsmen played scoring shots at will, specifically playing well square of the wicket. They put up a Canadian record partnership of 177 for the 2nd wicket, before Barnett was stumped going for another big shot. He made 77 runs, and Billcliff score 93 before being bowled by Abdur Razzak. Unfortunately for Canada, only Asif Mulla was able to make any kind of contribution to the cause (scoring 44), and the Canadians were only able to score 265 for 7 - 14 runs shy of the target. Abdur Razzak picked up 3 wickets, and Saqibul Hasan had figures of 2-36 from his ten overs.
Looking at things in the long term, you expect the Canadians to be happy with their effort on this day. Last summer they lost twice at home to Bermuda - now they beat them easily and are very competitive with Bangladesh, a test nation. However, one would have to be disappointed to lose given the position Barnett and Billcliff were able to put them in. Incidentally, this is only Bangladesh's second win over Canada in five matches - I, for one, would like to see them play more in the near future.
All the lead-up is done now, it's time for the World Cup! Warm-up matches will begin next week, and then the World Cup proper will kick off on March 13th. Canada's first match is on March 14th against Kenya, and we will have LIVE ball-by-ball commentary and scoring here on CricketEurope - your home for Associate cricket.