Canada and Namibia prepare for battle
Canada are hoping to build on the momentum of beating Namibia A when they face the full side in the Intercontinental Cup this week. It will be their fourth match of the competition - which has included one win among two defeats - but just the first for Namibia.
Speaking in the build-up, Canada's coach Pubudu Dassanayake said: "Obviously, it is difficult to go into any match after a series of disappointing results. But the positive side is that in the two ODIs against Kenya we were extremely competitive and gave our much more experienced and fancied opponents a run for their money."
He added: "A coach always looks at the positives and I believe defeats in the last two ODIs were mainly because Kenya utilised their experience and finished off in style even though we controlled the matches for most of the time. We have to carry forward that aggressive and positive attitude but with a controlled approach in the Namibian game."
Dassanayake hopes for the maximum 20 points from the Namibia match. In 2008, Canada will meet Scotland, Ireland and Bermuda to complete their schedule in the round-robin phase of the tournament. The top two sides qualify for the final, scheduled for November 2008 at a venue yet to be confirmed. Canada has played in two of the three finals since inception of this competition in 2004, but lost both times.
Namibia have done well since making a mark in Associates cricket at the 2001 ICC Trophy in the Greater Toronto Area. Nambia came second after winning a lower group and a cross-over match against Bermuda. The side lost the final to the Netherlands on a last-ball mis-field, but both teams, and third-placed Canada, qualified for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
Namibia had subsequent success at Under-19 level, including qualification for the next year's U19 World Cup, and the senior team has seen changes, even since the teams last met at the ICC Trophy in 2005, when Dassanayake was playing for Canada. Canada won that match, in Belfast, by 2 runs.
"The Namibian team has changed quite a lot since that game," said Dassanayake. "The present team has several new youngsters who play their domestic cricket in South Africa . It becomes difficult to chalk out a strategy against an unknown opponent but here we want to play to our strength which is batting and fast bowling."
Namibia captain Bjorn Kotze admits the performance of the U-19s has raised the bar of expectations on the senior team. "There is no doubt that the U-19 team has shown us the way forward and has given us extra motivation to match their achievement.
"This is a very important phase in Namibian cricket where good youngsters are coming up and pushing the senior players for places in the team. There is pressure on senior players but it is healthy pressure which is getting the best out of us.
"We feel very confident ahead of the match and want to make a winning start. Although we are missing a few experienced players, we had good run-up to this match and now it's all about delivering at the right time.
"Canada are competitive and a hard team to beat. We are not reading much into their defeats against Kenya because Kenya has far more experience than us. In fact, I think Canada will be more dangerous than before as it will be looking to reverse the fortunes.
"Instead of looking at what they have done in the past, we will concentrate on what we have to do in the coming days to collect maximum points."
He hopes familiarity with the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek will prove an added advantage. "Obviously, you can always prepare better if you are playing in familiar conditions."