Allrounder Nitish Kumar has been named Canada's new captain in a 14-man squad to take on USA in the Auty Cup - which will be contested as a three-match 50-over series this year - beginning on October 13 in Los Angeles. The 22-year-old takes over from Rizwan Cheema, who ended his Canada career earlier this year to take up an offer from the Capricorn Commanders in the Masters Champions League held in the UAE.
Kumar made his Canada debut as a 14-year-old, and has captaincy experience at junior level, having led Canada's Under-15 and Under-19 squads in the past. In addition to playing first-class cricket for MCCU Loughborough, Kumar was contracted to the St. Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League this year.
Canada's chances of retaining the Auty Cup will be dented by the absence of three key players. Ruvindu Gunasekera, Navneet Dhaliwal and Jeremy Gordon, who had all been part of the ICC Americas combined team that went to Trinidad & Tobago in January for the WICB Nagico Super50, have been left out. According to Cricket Canada general manager Ingleton Liburd, the trio was unavailable for selection for the Auty Cup tour.
Their spots have been taken by four uncapped players, including Bhavindu Adhihetty, who was part of the Canada squad at this year's Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh. The others are Dilon Hyliger, Varun Sehdev and Shehan Kamileen.
One other key addition to the Canada squad is the returning Nikhil Dutta. The offspinner was not a part of Canada's last touring side to the 2015 World T20 Qualifier in Scotland and Ireland, and his absence was felt. Canada had finished last in their group, having won the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 championship earlier that year, when he was their leading wicket-taker.
Canada will be coached by Davy Jacobs, the former South African first-class cricketer, who captained the Warriors franchise from 2008 to 2014. Jacobs, 33, had also fetched a $190,000-bid in the IPL auction in 2011 and represented the Mumbai Indians for two seasons. He now lives in Toronto and coaches at a local academy, in addition to guiding the national team.