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The Expectations of Canada's National Cricket Team Ahead of the CWC Challenge League on Route to the World Cup

Canada players
Canada players
©Canada Cricket
 

There have been multiple attempts to make a statement in the world of professional cricket from North American-based squads, particularly in the USA and Canada. And since becoming the most recent Desert Cup T20I champions in Oman this past week, can Canada continue to make their mark on the sport? 

Canada's Men's Cricket Team: The Journey

Canada arrived in the International Cricket Council in 1968, and although becoming a member of the ICC didn't see the Great White North join as soon as their counterparts, the nation was notably involved in the first-ever international test match in the history of cricket.

While cricket history in Canada runs deep, the Canadian's attempt to grow the sport has had its ups and downs. Crucial results have yet to arrive, but the journey continues as they attempt to become one of the most recognized teams in the world.

Following decades of little recognition, Canada became a part of the Twenty20 International status – created by the ICC. This pushed the exposure of the Canadian team, allowing them to compete amongst other rising nations on a bigger stage.

Canada did, however, qualify for the Cricket World Cup in 1979, but a twenty-four-year absence between then and their following qualification in 2003 isn't a drought that fans wanted to see.

The ICC World Cup Quest & Desert Cup Success

 Spearheaded by the world-renowned talents of Saad Bin Zafar, the Canadian cricket team arrived in Malaysia earlier this month in preparation for competing in the third and final round of the International Cricket Council's World Cup Challenge League A tournament. Canada is the current table leader and will be joined by Denmark, Singapore, Vanuatu, Qatar and hosts Malaysia between Dec.1 – 16, 2022.

Confidence is brimming amongst this Canadian team. They've spent most of November in Oman, competing in a pre-tour. Alongside Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, the 2022 Desert Cup T20I was up for grabs, as Canada dominated the opposition in the seven-day competition to lift the trophy.

Canada's arrival at the Oman Desert Cup was organized to assist the team's preparations for the ICC Challenge League A final round. The winner of the Challenge League will move on to the Zimbabwe-hosted qualifier, which determines the four teams eligible for the 2023 ICC 50 Overs World Cup. 

Saad Bin Zafar was appointed squad captain when Navneet Dhaliwal could not attend for personal reasons. Zafar, a team veteran since 2008, is the world record holder for completing his max quota of four overs in a T20I without allowing a single run. He also has the record for the fifth most maiden overs bowled from his T20I tenure.

The team which flew from Canada to Malaysia/Oman earlier this month consists of sixteen notable stars, including the experience and pace of Jeremy Gordon – a replacement for Akhil Kumar, who was additionally unavailable for the competition. The Malaysia-Oman Canada squad consists of the following:

Saad Bin Zafar, Nikhil Dutta, Jeremy Gordon, Aaron Johnson, Ammar Khalid, Dilon Heyliger, Armaan Kapoor, Shreyas Movva, Nicholas Kirton, Salman Nazar, Kaleem Sana, Pargat Singh, Ravinderpal Singh, Matthew Spoors, Srimantha Wijeyerathne, and Harsh Thaker.

Under the tutelage of manager Alphonso Franco and head coach Pubudu Dassanayake, Canada has thrived since it arrived in Southeast Asia, and its recent Desert Cup lifting efforts are the most positive start the entire team could ask for.

Desert Cup T20I Champions

Canada entered Oman with a point to prove. Their superior efforts saw them capture the 2022 Desert Cup T20 Series with a glorious eight-wicket success against the competition hosts Oman during the final game at the Oman Cricket Academy.

Following this achievement, the Canadian team is now 9-3 in 2022, and during the four-team Desert Cup group stage, Bahrain was the only squad that could retrieve a winning outing against the Great White North.

From a betting perspective, the support was evident as the top Canadian betting sites had their nation favoured in many of the meetings. Betting the favourite would evolve into a wise wagering decision as Canada continued to overcome the opposition. 

This Canadian unit displayed dominance en route to the title win. As they opted to field first in the final, bettors backing the Canada Moneyline were joyous when watching Oman lose their opening batter Jatinder Singh; the hosts soon went down 17/3 in five overs as Jeremy Gordon delivered a double strike off against Kashyap Prajapati and Zeeshan Maqsood.

Canadian bowlers were superior, as Oman looked at 23/4 in the seventh over. The departure of Oman batters resumed, and with a mere five overs remaining, they were 74/8.

Canada managed to keep Oman at 137, as the betting favourites won their previous meeting with the hosts with just a ball to spare, proving they weren't lucky last time out, and Aaron Johnson was a crucial player in these efforts.

Finishing as the Desert Cup's top run-scorer (402 runs), Aaron Johnson will be one to watch in the future. Alongside his opening teammate, Srimantha Wijeyeratne sent the Oman bowlers on a wild goose chase.

The tag team put the opposition all over the field with an emphatic 124-run in 12 overs that secured the game. Johnson had already landed a century during the group stage, but he was ready to shine again in the final as he wasn't out until a 41- ball 68. Outside of Johnson, Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood was the only other centurion during the Desert Cup.

The Canadian squad took all of the individual awards. Johnson took the best batter, and Ammar Khalid took the highest wicket-taker.

Canada's route to next year's World Cup looks bright, and if their recent form is anything to go by, they'll be a team of the future that will earn the respect they've been yearning for.