Canada pick Hiral Patel after Dutta opts for CPL
Canada offspinner Nikhil Dutta, who has chosen to remain in the Caribbean Premier League with the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, has been replaced by Hiral Patel in the squad for the ICC World T20 Qualifier beginning next week in Ireland and Scotland. Dutta's absence is a big blow for Canada - he was their leading wicket-taker at the ICC Americas Division One T20 tournament in May with 12 wickets at an average of 9.41 and an economy rate of 4.91.
Dutta is the second Associate player to drop out of the qualifier after obtaining a CPL contract, joining USA's Steven Taylor. But while Taylor has been on the bench for all five games played by the Barbados Tridents, Dutta has played in the three games so far for the Patriots, taking two wickets at an economy rate of 8.18.
Even though Cricket Canada received clearance from the ICC to replace Dutta with the hard-hitting Patel, Dutta may face obstacles regarding his involvement with the Patriots for the duration of the CPL season. According to ESPNcricinfo sources, the board has attempted to revoke Dutta's 'No Objection Certificate' to play in the CPL after he stated his desire to keep playing for the Patriots rather than join the 15-man squad in Scotland, for which he was originally selected.
ESPNcricinfo contacted Dutta in St Kitts on Thursday and he confirmed that he was facing opposition from his home board and his NOC could be revoked. "They have sent a mail saying my NOC has been revoked Tuesday night, even though they told me before coming here that I will have a choice whether to play CPL or go (to the) Qualifier," Dutta said.
ESPNcricinfo also reached out to the Canada board for comment on Thursday. A board official deferred comment on the matter to Cricket Canada president Vimal Hardat. "It was an internal decision after carefully going over the intent and deliberation from the player of not wanting to represent Canada even though Cricket Canada sent the players to the CPL camp," Hardat responded in an email. "The purpose to send players was to not only showcase our talent pool to the CPL but also prepare players for the qualifiers. It was a hard decision that has been taken and we have replaced Nikhil Dutta with Hiral Patel."
Patel, 23, announced himself at the 2011 ICC World Cup by hitting an audacious half-century against Australia. However, he has struggled for form since then. He has not played for Canada since the 2013 ICC World T20 Qualifier in the UAE, where he played in five of eight matches and scored 61 runs at an average of 12.20 with a best of 18 and also took four wickets at 21.00.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna