Canada Kicks Off U-19 World Cup In Style With A Big Win!

Usman Limbada led Canada to victory with a superb knock (C) ICC

Canada kicked off the U-19 World Cup with a bang today with a tense victory over Zimbabwe.  Canada won the toss and elected to bat and held off the a tough Zimbabwe team by 10 runs to get secure their first ever victory in the tournament.

Canada started off well within the first 10 overs with Ruvindu Gunasekara and Hiral Patel getting Canada off to a steady start.  Ruvindu was the first batsman to depart after making 20, while Hiral made 29.  In the next 10 overs Canada lost 3 quick wickets before Usman Limbada took charge with a superb 90 runs off only 114 balls.  A knock which included 6 fours and 1 six which helped the boys reach a defendable target of 201-7 after batting their alotted 50 overs.  Usman shared an important 57 run partnership with Darius D’Souza (20 from 34 balls).

Although it wasn’t a huge target it was certainly enough to put up a good fight and they held their nerve in the last few overs.  Zimbabwe’s chase got off to a rocky start because of some great bowling from Zain Mahmood and Arsalan Qadir.  Zain picked up 3 wickets for 31 runs to lead the bowling attack.  Zimbabwe was 23-3 before Wicket keeper Dean Mashawidza and Andrew Lindsay steadied the chase for Zimbabwe with 75 and 40 runs respectively.  Parth Desai got the crucial breakthrough by trapping Mashawidza in front for a big LBW.  Zimbabwe fell short by 10 runs and were all out in the 50th over.

It’s the first ever victory for Canada at the U-19 World Cup and hopefully a good sign for things to come.  But, while it is a big victory, it is only one game.  The team must treat this like any another game and start preparing for the hosts New Zealand tomorrow.  There will be plenty of time to savour this victory after the tournament is over… This game is definitely history.

Check out the full scorecard here.

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Team Canada Prepare for ICC U-19 World Cup

U-19 Captain Rustum Bhatti drives during the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier (c) ICC

The Ontario representatives had a good practice with some of the Senior Canadian Men’s team players.  It was my first chance to see the young guys in person and I was really impressed.

One thing about this bunch is that they are not lacking in confidence.  Even if they don’t win, there is enough talent in the group to put up a good fight.

The fitness level was good and there is some variety in the bowling with a few left arm spin bowling options.  They leave on New Years Day and play their first warm up game on the 12th.

The full squad:

Rustam Bhatti (captain), Manny Aulakh, Parth Desai, Darius D’Souza, Ruvindu Gunasekara, Hardik Kotak, Nitish Kumar, Usman Limbada, Zain Mahmood, Asif Manjra, Hiral Patel, Riyazkhan Pathan, Arsalan Qadir, Harpreet Singh, Hamza Tariq.

You can support the squad by visiting the Cricket Canada online shop.   Check out the new toques.

U-19’s Preparing for World Cup

The National team is preparing to head to New Zealand for the U-19 World Cup.  Unfortunately, being in Canada means limited coverage, but in the major cricket playing nations this tournament is big news.

Many of the best players in world cricket represented their Countries at U-19 level.  Some, especially in the sub-continent, get a chance to play in the Senior team even before the U-19 team, for others, it’s a first chance to shine against other top players from around the cricket world and a chance to show the national team selectors that you have what it takes to perform at international level.

In late 2003, I was in Pakistan when Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India were visiting with their respective U-19 squads to play in an Asia Cup ODI series taking place in Lahore.  One young man on the Indian team dominated the tournament taking 18 wickets at an average of 7.38 including a match against Bangladesh when he took 9-16.  Absolutely phenomenal numbers for a young Irfan Pathan.  He led India to victory against Sri Lanka in the finals and after that series he was fast tracked into the senior Indian side.  He was immediately, unrealistically, compared to the great Wasim Akram.  Although, he has been in and out of the Indian team since then, he’s had some great performances for them in big matches.  Unfortunately, he’s also had some entirely indifferent tours when he hasn’t made much of an impression at all.  But, he took his chance at the U-19 level and flourished.

The kids that are participating know that this might be their only chance.  It’s something they’ve been working towards for their whole cricket playing life.  The teams will be watching these kids closely to determine if they have the right attitude, temperament and most of all the talent to perform at International level.

The tournament begins on January 15th.  The full schedule is available here.

Canada will play Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and hosts New Zealand.  How do you think they will do?

The tournament gets underway on January 15th, 2010.  I hope to speak to some of the players and management before they depart.  For now, check out our interview with U-19 Canadian Fast Bowler Manny Aulakh.

U-19 Player Profile: Manny Aulakh

Full Name: Maninderjit Singh Aulakh
DOB: 17/11/91
Birthplace: Bathinda, Punjab, India
Batting Style: RHB (Middle/Lower Order Bat)
Bowling Style: Right-Arm Fast-Medium
Favourite Shot: Cover Drive
Domestic Club: Richmond Cricket Club (BC)

Manny has just returned from a 7 week training program in Sri Lanka.  He is expected to be an important part of the Canadian U-19 team next month in New Zealand during the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup.

When did you start playing Cricket?

I started playing when I was about 10 or 11 in India.  Nothing organized, just playing with a tennis ball in the street with my brother.

How did you start playing Cricket in Canada?

I came to Richmond, BC with my family in 2004.  My brother joined the Richmond Cricket Club soon after.  One day, I went to a game with him and one of the players didn’t show up, so I took his place.  I only faced 2 balls and didn’t get to bowl, but I really enjoyed the game.  That was the first time I played hard ball cricket.

After that I decided I wanted to play.  I went to all the club practices and started out playing in the lowest division (5th Division) in May 2006.

When did you start playing with the U-19 squad?

My first game was this past summer in King City vs Bahamas.  We won quite easily and I got my first wicket!  It was great.

You were recently in Sri Lanka.  Tell me about that experience.

Before I left for Sri Lanka, I met with Coach Pubudu Dassanayake, he told me what to focus on when I got there.  I was in Sri Lanka for 7 weeks.  I started with Pacific club but then I moved to Tamil Union.  Basically, I worked really hard on my fitness during net sessions, running, gym sessions, pool sessions and we even had a bowling session with Chaminda Vaas.

What did you learn while you were there?

Sri Lanka was an awesome experience for me.  I found out how hard it is to become a professional cricketer. I also learned that Cricket is more than just physical talent.  You need to develop the mental part.  You need to have a good cricket brain.

What is next for you?

Right now, I’m fully concentrating on the tour to West Indies next week.  After that we are going to New Zealand for the Under 19 World Cup.

In the ICC qualifiers during the summer, I was mainly played in the team as a bowler but recently I’ve been working on my batting as well.  I’m looking forward to it.

What do you think of your chances in the World Cup?

We have to take one game at a time. We have a very good team and I’m confident that we’ll give a tough time to team’s like Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Bloggers Note: You’ve got to love the confidence.  What do you think?  Can Canada pull off an upset next month in New Zealand?

Let us know in the comments section below or hit us up on twitter.