Individuals impress, but USA miss Canada's depth
The champions didn't lose a game thanks in large part to the strongest bowling unit in the four-team field. Nikhil Dutta was the standout performer with the ball, finishing second overall with 12 wickets at an economy-rate of 4.91. Of the six emerging talents from the Americas region who have been offered Caribbean Premier League trials, he has the best chance of latching on with his assigned team, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. The only thing preventing Dutta from getting that contract may be the clash of dates with the World T20 Qualifier.
Part of Dutta's success was the fact that he had excellent support in the pace department and fast bowler Cecil Pervez shined with nine wickets at an even more impressive economy of 4.33, the best in the tournament. He was as equally effective in the Powerplay as he was at the death, ensuring the opposition never got the late surge needed to post a defendable target against Canada.
On the minus side, medium-pacer Khurram Chohan, with one wicket in two games, looked average in his return to the team after not making the cut for Division Two in January. Raw talent Satsimranjit Dhindsa got more opportunities to press his case but didn't leave Chohan behind as he claimed just two in five games. If they're kept in the squad for the Qualifer, they'll need to make more significant contributions in seaming conditions in Ireland and Scotland to improve Canada's chances of finishing in the top six.
On the batting side, four Canada players scored more than 100 runs in the tournament, led by Ruvindu Gunasekera, who finished second overall with 196 including three half-centuries. However, Gunasekera offered a slew of dropped chances throughout and will need to tighten up his game in the face of fielding units who show far less mercy than those in the Americas.
Rizwan Cheema also showed signs of his vintage form. Though he never crossed 50, his consistent explosions at the top of the order regularly heaped pressure on opponents and at the same time eased the burden on Canada's middle order. He'll need to convert some of those into bigger scores come the Qualifier in July.
The most glaring weakness for Canada was their appalling fielding. In their day three encounter against USA they missed six chances and at least that many run-out chances alone in the rematch with Suriname. Each squad is allowed to add a 15th player for the Qualifier and Canada should think long and hard about Usman Limbada. He has had a lean run with the bat in the past 18 months, but he is arguably the best Associate fielder in the Americas and would immediately provide the lift that Canada desperately need in that department.
The Americans swept the tournament awards as MVP Fahad Babar finished as the leading run-getter with 242 while legspinner Timil Patel took the most wickets, with 15 at an economy-rate of 4.79. USA may have had the more impressive individual performers, but their overall squad depth and balance was weak in comparison to Canada, with Babar and Steven Taylor the only two to pass 100 runs in the tournament while not a single wicket was taken by a fast bowler.
It did not help matters that wicketkeeper Taylor is going through a period of scratchy form. Though he finished third overall with 167 runs at 27.83, it was a far cry from his dominance of 2013 when he terrorized the region's bowlers for 413 runs at 59 including two centuries. Taylor looked bewildered at times, particularly in the first match against Bermuda when he had 14 dots in his 17 deliveries at the crease. He needs to regain the confidence of two years ago to come back out of his shell so that the burden to score isn't placed solely on Babar.
As for the middle order, there was nothing significant to note outside of Nicholas Standford's half-century against Suriname, and this area should come under the microscope from selectors, particularly after the ponderous effort chasing on day six against Canada. Mrunal Patel had trouble timing the ball on the Indianapolis pitch, and played on thrice in three chances at No. 3 to finish with 34 runs.
Adil Bhatti is highly regarded by many around the USA and was their best asset in the field, taking three catches and pulling off three run-outs. He looked to be gaining steam coming out of Division Three in Malaysia when he scored 52 not out and took 3 for 29 in a win over Bermuda, but he has been consistently underwhelming with the bat in T20s for USA. His best score in 19 matches remains the 21 he made on debut against Uganda in 2012. Likewise, Barrington Bartley has played 20 T20 matches for USA but has never surpassed his 26 on debut against Canada in 2012. USA can't expect to win close games, particularly chasing, if these two don't get their act together.
Sitting on the sidelines is Aditya Mishra, who remains the only USA player besides Taylor to record multiple fifties in ICC T20 tournaments. He is still only 33 and pining for a recall. If USA's selectors want to get very creative, they could do no worse than reaching out to Josh Dascombe or Harry Bush. Dascombe, an Australian with US citizenship through his mother, had a brief trial with USA two years ago in Florida where he barely got a look-in but in the time since progressed this year to the point where he made it into the Queensland second XI in October. The 21-year-old left-arm spinning allrounder batted at No. 8 for Queensland but is capable of slotting in much higher for USA.
Bush is a more intriguing prospect. Born in Los Angeles, the 25-year-old was raised from the age of five in the UK and began representing minor county side Norfolk from the U-13 level. He made his first-class debut with Leeds/Bradford MCCU in 2012, top scoring with 70 in the first innings against a Surrey attack featuring future England Test bowler Chris Jordan, and was good enough to score a century for Kent second XI while on trial in 2013. Bush continues to play minor county cricket for the Norfolk senior side and the tall batsman would add invaluable experience of English pitch conditions similar to what the team will be going up against at the Qualifier.
As for the pace unit, Hammad Shahid bowled well despite not taking any wickets. In 2011 at the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland, Shahid claimed 13 wickets at an outstanding 3.52 economy. He should do well in those conditions again but his support act is up in the air. Jasdeep Singh was given one game in Indianapolis and it's unclear if the selectors will stick with him for the summer.
Allrounder Japen Patel is in line for a recall after withdrawing from Indianapolis due to work availability and his nippy medium-pace could prove handy but USA still need a frontline seamer to support Shahid. Usman Shuja took 17 wickets in 2008 at WCL Division Five in Jersey in seaming conditions similar to Ireland and Scotland. He still has the hunger to play for USA and is the country's leading wicket-taker in 50-over cricket having set the mark at Division Three last October in Malaysia. Whether selectors are interested in recalling him to the T20 squad at age 36 is a different matter. USA won't have any chance in Ireland without better output from their fast bowlers and taking along four specialist spinners to Ireland like they did for Indianapolis is a recipe for failure.
The island nation is essentially clinging on for dear life to their status in Division One of the Americas as well as Division Four of the WCL. They looked competitive against USA on day one but a tight loss took the wind out of their sails and they managed just a lone win over Suriname while losing to the South American nation in the rematch.
Offspinner Jacobi Robinson was their leading wicket-taker with six at 5.09. Young left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins had a decent economy of 5.41 but only managed four wickets. The 17-year-old has undergone a tremendous growth spurt in the past year, now hovering comfortably above six feet, and as a consequence of adjusting to his physical maturation has drifted away from flighting the ball. Instead, he spent much of the tournament darting his deliveries in flatter, making it difficult for him to spin the ball past the edge. He needs to rediscover the tricks that made him a wicket-taking threat at junior level to give Bermuda someone to build their bowling unit around.
Two men in their 40s, captain Janeiro Tucker and David Hemp, were the only two to cross 100 runs. Bermuda's failure was encapsulated by Dion Stovell, who opened every match but scored a grand total of 11 runs off 39 deliveries in six games. The future is looking bleak once Hemp and Tucker call it a day.
Suriname's tournament was decided on the first day when they dropped four simple catches against Canada. Had they capitalized on the opportunities created by their bowlers, they may have kept Canada under 90 and made the chase very interesting. The confidence from scoring an early upset may have propelled them to stronger overall results. Instead, they crumbled and never recovered until the last day when they finally pieced together a complete performance in a seven-wicket win over Bermuda.
Captain Mohindra Boodram and left-arm spinning allrounder Sauid Drepaul have been reliable assets for Suriname in the last few years but both fared poorly in Indianapolis. Drepaul in particular had a disastrous time, accumulating 25 runs in five innings without hitting a single boundary and only taking four wickets. Boodram wasn't much better, finishing with 84 runs though he redeemed himself on the last day with an unbeaten 26 in the win over Bermuda.
Unquestionably the biggest bright spot for Suriname was Muneshwar Patandin. The seam-bowling allrounder made waves when he took 6 for 22 on day four against Canada before top-scoring with 36 in a chase that ultimately lost steam after his opening partnership with Wasim Akram ended. Patandin and Akram were the leading run-getters for the team with 118 and 95 respectively. If Suriname can produce a few more players to hold the fort in the middle order, they'll be one step closer to overhauling Bermuda not just on the regional ladder but in the WCL structure as well.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna