Canada v UAE, Intercontinental Cup, Toronto July 4, 2007

Dhaniram upbeat despite under-strength Canada

Sunil Dhaniram, the stand-in Canada captain, is upbeat about his side's chances of beating UAE in the Intercontinental Cup this Friday, although he is without three important players.

Dhaniram replaces regular captain Ashish Bagai, who has work commitments, while opening bowler Umar Bhatti and experienced all-rounder Jon Davison are also missing. Their replacements for the match in Toronto are Steve Welsh, Aftab Shamshudeen and Hemnarine Chattergoon.

"We are missing a couple of guys but I think we have the players who can win," said Dhaniram, the 38-year-old slow left-arm bowler and middle-order batsman. "I have every faith in the replacements coming in and I know we are going to give it our best shot.

"I have played a few times against the UAE and they are always tough to play against. I think their batting is really their strength with Saqib Ali and Khurram Khan especially. But we will be trying to restrict them and then we will go in and get the heads down and try to get a win."

It is imperative for Canada to get their campaign back on track after losing by 45 runs to Netherlands last week. In a seesawing game, Netherlands' all-rounder Peter Borren took responsibility in the second innings, scoring his maiden first-class century and setting up victory for his side. Borren was then the destroyer on Tuesday, with 96 off 70 balls as he helped Netherlands to an 117-run win in their ODI against Canada at Toronto CSCC.

For Canada, the four-day version of the game takes priority from Friday and the quick bowling of Henry Osinde could be key. His performance was a highlight of the ICC Intercontinental Cup match against the Netherlands as he took seven wickets in the match and showed that even though he was batting at number 11, he can still contribute meaningfully in that department too, scoring 60 in the first innings and six not out in the second.

Good form was also shown by Shahzad Khan, Dhaniram and Qaiser Ali with the bat and Bhatti (until he injured his hand) and Kevin Sandher with the ball. So all is certainly not lost for the north Americans.

Meanwhile, the UAE began this tour with a visit to a wet and rainy Ayr to take on Scotland. However, only 46 overs of that match were played with Arshad Ali's team recovering from 18-3 to 174-4 before the rain returned to call a permanent halt to proceedings.

Coming from the heat of the Emirates' summer, Arshad would have been nervous playing in what were typically Scottish conditions so he would have been happy with how his side recovered on day one.

If he was, perhaps, secretly relieved to get away from Ayr with a draw, Arshad will feel he has the ammunition to threaten Canada with an outright win and victory will almost certainly put his side on top of the table at this early stage.

Apart from the captain himself, the team boasts some consistent performers such as Saqib, the experienced Khurram and wicketkeeper-batsman Gayan Silva. There is also plenty of know-how in the bowling line-up with Ahmed Nadeem, Mohammad Tauqir and Javed Ismael having been on the scene for some time now.

With rain having followed the UAE across the Atlantic Ocean, there may be some interruptions over the four days of the match but both teams need a victory so expect the players to make the most of conditions when they do get out on to the field.

Canada in particular will be anxious not to lose two matches in a row at home. Given there is a new format for this tournament in place it is not yet clear how many defeats a team can afford to suffer and still hope to qualify for the final but two successive losses would be a serious blow to Canada's chances of making another final, as it did in 2004 and 2006.

James Fitzgerald is ICC Communications Officer