Canada stun English Twenty20 champions
Last year at the Caribbean T20, Canada were labeled a disgrace in the West Indies press after a rather abject performance. Things look like being different this year as they outclassed a Hampshire side playing as one of the two English county sides invited to take part in this tournament.
At the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, Canadian captain Ashish Bagai won the toss and chose to bat first. Canada started with a 39 run opening partnership, dominated by some lusty blows from Ruvindu Gunasekera before Hiral Patel became one of three run outs in the Canadian innings.
It was the running between the wickets that seemed to be Canada's weakness, but until the end of the innings they kept getting just home to get the quick singles. Gunaskera's dismissal for 29 slowed the Canadian innings, before Rizwan Cheema hit a quickfire 31 from 23 balls.
Canada's running between the wickets finally let them down at the end of their innings with both Zubin Surkari and Harvir Baidwan being run out in the final over. Canada finished on 129-7 from their 20 overs. It was a low score, but Canada will have taken note that Jamaica successfully defended a lower total against Guyana the previous night.
In reply, Canada looked to be slipping to defeat, as three easy catches were dropped off the bowling of Jimmy Hansra, opening the bowling as a spinner. Hansra remained economical though, and Canada were slightly in front at the halfway stage of Hampshire's innings.
Hampshire were struggling to find the boundary, with Parth Desai and Harvir Baidwan both bowling some very tight overs. Desai finished with 2-15 and was eventually named man of the match. The run rate was climbing, Hampshire were panicking, trying all sorts of improvisational shots, and when Rizwan Cheema removed Hamza Riazuddin from the last ball of the 18th over, Hampshire needed 37 from two overs.
Khurram Chohan then went for just five from the penultimate over, and when Rizwan Cheema bowled a dot ball from the first ball of the final over, Canada had secured an unlikely win. Cheema finished with 2-27 to go with his 31, and Canada had won by 23 runs, their first against an English first-class county side since they beat Middlesex at Lord's in 1954.
Canada's next match in the tournament will be against Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday.