T20 Canada 2008 October 10, 2008

Pakistan and Sri Lanka odds-on favourites

Cricinfo staff

Canada's Abdool Samad wrapped up against the cold in the Maple Leaf CC nets © Eddie Norfolk
The publicity for the tournament was rather last-minute and the buying of tickets might have needed more perseverance than ideal, but the four-nation T20 Canada competition kicks off on Friday in Toronto.

If the hype is to be believed, there will be big crowds at the four-day event, despite the withdrawal of West Indies and their replacement with the less attractive Zimbabweans. They better have warm clothing as the temperatures are decidedly chilly and are unlikely to rise into double figures for the early match.

The main draw for organisers are Pakistan, who landed less than 24 hours before the first match at 9.30am on Friday after hassles with visas for some of their players. Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka arrived a day earlier, so none of the three visiting sides have had much time to acclimatise to the early-autumn conditions.

The ground at Maple Leaf CC has been given a complete overhaul. Stands can accommodate 10,000 spectators and there is also a large video screen for replays as well as improved media and player facilities. The capital has been underwritten by the Dubai-based organisers who are promoting Canada as a major tourist destination.

With hosts Canada making up the four teams, it is hard to see how the final can be anything other than a Pakistan-Sri Lanka affair. Canada are among the lowest-ranked of the leading Associates, and Zimbabwe have done nothing in the last year to suggest that their Twenty20 victory over Australia in September 2007 was anything other than a flash in the pan. The star of that win, Brendan Taylor, is absent, again after falling out with the board.