ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Canada v Kenya, Group A, World Cup 2011, Delhi

Canada learn from their mistakes

When they were in with a chance of upsetting Pakistan, Canada choked, but against Kenya, they used smart tactics and learned how to build partnerships

Nagraj Gollapudi at the Feroz Shah Kotla

March 7, 2011

Comments: 19 | Text size: A | A

The day before their clash in Delhi, both Kenya and Canada's captains had said their teams would play their own brands of cricket. Jimmy Kamande promised his players would be expressive and bold, while Ashish Bagai said we could expect fluency from his men. At the end of Monday's game, Kamande could barely speak, hurt and distraught; Bagai was all smiles, and even spoke a few words of Hindi.

Canada were the sum of their parts on Monday. Their fast bowlers ensured they kept their foot on Kenya's throat after making early inroads; their fielders remained electric and attentive to avoid any slip-ups; and in the end, their middle-order batsmen kept their heads light but focussed to snatch a comfortable victory, only their second in all World Cups.

Essentially, Canada finished the job they had started against Pakistan last week. Then, chasing a similar target (184), they had stumbled at the halfway stage. Sensing a victory against a bigger opponent, they had shivered in the headlights. No such nerves on Monday. It was evident that Canada had been working on their mistakes.

Against Sri Lanka, in their opening match, they realised how big the chasm was between an Associate and a big brother. The realisation that they needed to do more than just turn up to last in a 50-over match hit them flush in the face like a Mike Tyson punch. Then, against Zimbabwe, Bagai talked up their chances and they duly got steamrollered by a 175-run defeat.

But it was against Pakistan that they took a big stride toward recovery. On a turning track, against an opponent never far from being fallible, Canada fielded and bowled with fervour to restrict Pakistan to less than 200. But could their batsmen pace the innings without allowing Pakistan to gain control? You don't walk in with doubts when you are facing Shahid Afridi, and he lauded it over Canada in feudal style, whipping them into submission with his versatility as much as his aura.

Ashish Bagai celebrates his half-century, Canada v Kenya, Group A, World Cup, Delhi, March 7, 2011
Ashish Bagai's partnership with Jimmy Hansra ensured Canada completed the job they had started against Pakistan © Getty Images

But, on Monday, it was a battle of equals; and Canada brought their best game to the table. Henry Osinde delivered the kind of spell captains yearn for from their premier bowlers; and with Kenya 57 for 5, Canada knew unless they did something completely stupid the match was theirs.

Luckily, they had a Plan B if things did not pan out the way they were expected to. On the eve of the match, Bagai had predicted that spin would be the dominant factor on a pitch that was devoid of any grass, in addition to being slow and low. But that never happened. Even Balaji Rao, their best spinner, who had managed to keep the Pakistan batsmen silent, couldn't do much. Still, Canada sensed they held the advantage as Kenya did not have many wickets in the bag. It was Kenya then that panicked in the end and lost their way.

Then, Canada made a smart move in sending the big-hitting Rizwan Cheema in to open. Though he did not last long, his brief cameo made clear the Canadian intentions: they were here to win.

"We had a disappointing batting display against Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and we had a chance of getting a win over Pakistan, but we were looking at the present," Bagai said after the win. "We are pretty happy with the guys who performed well. Henry bowled fantastic first-up, got us the advantage and then we pulled it back again in the Powerplay. And then two guys batted to get us over the line."

The two guys Bagai was talking about were himself and Jimmy Hansra. The pair added 132 for the fourth wicket, and along the way learned a few valuable lessons about constructing partnerships, which seems to be the Achilles heel of the batting line-ups of the Associate teams. "We were fortunate enough to have no run-rate pressure; four runs an over on that wicket would always be gettable if you spent some time on the wicket," Bagai said. "It was not an easy wicket to get used to, but once you were in there you could work it around."

Kamande admitted the loss was a bitter pill to swallow against an opponent Kenya fancied beating. "I will not hide it. Today was our most disappointing performance of the tournament," he said.

Bagai, who was born in Delhi, found plenty of home support at the Kotla, with his "grandparents, friends, relatives" accounting for some 50 people of the 5,500-strong crowd. Asked if he was chilled or thrilled with Canada's victory, Bagai said: "We are chilled with the win. We are looking to use this as a spark for the second half of the first round. My goal now is to get the batsmen who are performing to be consistent and leave the first round on a high."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 19 
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Posted by gothetaniwha on (March 9, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

Canada improving - are you kidding me... So is Davidson 4 no this time .LOL

Posted by Anil_Times on (March 8, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

It is totally unfair..Canada beating Kenya with the help of borrowed cricketers. Such a practice should not be encouraged, Kenya should be proud that despite all crisis they are able to field a team of their own. Canada on the other hand is depending on Asian expatriates, such teams should not be allowed to particiate, any team can field retired cricketers from Asia and expatriates, this will not do any good for the game.

Posted by grapecrush on (March 8, 2011, 12:07 GMT)

Hey, it wasn't exactly a 'clash of the titans' but Canadian supporters will take it all the same. In the meantime, I hope that the ICC thinks very carefully about the implications of limiting the majority of associate nations to the t20 tournament. Yes, watching a minnow get devoured can be boring but the game doesn't grow through exclusivity. In fact, Canada ought to be one of the countries that the ICC targets for growth in the sport. It has large immigrant populations from South Asia, the West Indies, the UK, and Ocenia who are mad about cricket. Increasingly cricket is the sport of choice in high schools in and around the Toronto area in comparison to Canadian football or ice hockey. It's a relatively prosperous place that with a bit of support, investment, and time could become another competitive cricketing nation.

Posted by dsig3 on (March 8, 2011, 8:57 GMT)

Well done Canada. I have been very impressed with their wicketkeeper and ofcourse their roly poly legspinner. I know Afridi has the wickets but I think balaji is one of the best spinners in the tourney at the moment. I wish Aus could get Balaji to play for us.

Posted by usacricket123 on (March 8, 2011, 5:05 GMT)

What kind of a world cup player drops a simple lollipop at mid on - and this is the best Kenya has to offer. They lost the game right there - The great Waters should instead of playing cricket in games concentrate on maybe taking simple catching practice so that in another few years he can also show us how to catch. Kenya's performance leaves no doubt that the ICC is absolutely right with their exclusion from all future international cricket except for 20/20 which anyone on the right day can win, and a simple dropped catch like Mr. Waters doesn't hurt. Does Kenya have anyone else who has not played - they can't possible do any worse than Waters or Tikolo's performances.

Posted by dummy4fb on (March 8, 2011, 4:23 GMT)

Proud to be Canadian. Our Canadian Cricket Team played far better than those teams with full test status. Made the strong Pakistanis sweat to get their narrow victory. Beat Kenya easily. Way to go Canada!!!!

Posted by randikaayya on (March 8, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

Canada have steadily improved during the course of this WC. Goes on to show what proper International exposure can add to a side. Best of luck from Sri Lanka!

Posted by dummy4fb on (March 8, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

Great victory.GO CANADA GOOOO.

Posted by Shahzadd on (March 8, 2011, 3:17 GMT)

O Canada, Go Canada...O Cheema, Bana day Keema....next on target is New Zeland..!!!!!

Posted by AusBrit on (March 8, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

Good going Canada!

PS. Note to cricinfo editors: Should be Afridi "lorded it," not "lauded"!

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