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November 20, 2004
After both sides claimed winning draws in their semi-finals, Canada and Scotland will meet each other on Sunday when the three-day final of the inaugural ICC Intercontinental Cup starts.
Scotland, who ruthlessly outplayed Kenya at Abu Dhabi, will be on a high after their batsmen seemed to run into some form: six separate players passed 40 once against Kenya. Fraser Watts, who opens the batting, became the first player since John Kerr in 1927 to score successive first-class hundreds for Scotland when he put together to 146 in over six hours in the first innings.
Although Craig Wright, Scotland's captain could say that said the winning draw against Kenya was due to having "a bit more firepower in the bowling department" they still need to find more bite as they struggled to make any serious incisions when Kenya batted out time in the last two sessions after being set an impossible 607 to win. John Blain remains incisive with the new ball, but there are no such guarantees with Gavin Hamilton's medium-pace if the batsmen take control mid-innings. It's unlikely that Paul Hoffman will return figures like 5-5 again, but there are a number of bowlers that Wright can call on.
The value of winning the tournament should not be underestimated. Wright said: "We want to achieve one-day international status. We are aiming to prove we are consistently the best Associate Member country and any elevated status would give cricket a massive boost in Scotland."
Canada, for their part, will hope to repeat their successful game plan against UAE, who were put under pressure from the start after Canada posted an imposing 337 before the end of the first day. Ian Billcliff, Canada's captain, indicated that "the partnership between Zubin Surkari and Don Maxwell was absolutely vital and enabled us to apply pressure with runs on the board," but he considers that the game will "come down to application."
The tournament has so far provided some astonishing performances, not least among them John Davison's match figures of 17-137 against USA, which were the second best in first-class cricket since Jim Lakers' 19-90 against Australia in 1956. But with Davison missing for Canada due to commitments with South Australia, and Dougie Brown unavailable for Scotland through injury, if something special happens, the performer's talents will have been nurtured in the earlier rounds.
Canada (probable) 1 Zubin Surkari, 2 Ashif Mulla (wk), 4 Don Maxwell, 4 Ian Billcliff (capt), 5 Haninder Dhillon, 6 Jason Patraj, 7 Sunil Dhaniram, 8 Austin Codrington, 9 Sanjayan Thuraisingam, 10 Umar Bhatti, 11 Kevin Sandher.
Scotland (probable) 1 Douglas Lockhart, 2 Fraser Watts, 3 Cedric English, 4 Gavin Hamilton, 5 Ryan Watson, 6 Colin Smith (wk), 7 Kyle Coetzer, 8 Craig Wright (capt), 9 John Blain, 10 Paul Hoffmann, 11 Asim Butt.
Debashish Biswas is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in London
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