Zimbabwe and Canada square off in opening encounter

The young Zimbabwe cricketers, fresh from a seven-match ODI series against West Indies in which they ended at the wrong end of a 5-0 result, now turn their attention to a tri-nation series featuring associate ICC members Canada and Bermuda.

Today, Zimbabwe will welcome a change of pace when they square off against Canada at the Queen's Park Oval, two days after a 104-run defeat at the hands of the regional team.

Given the fact they have shown flashes of brilliance over the past two weeks - albeit each time in losing causes - coupled with the fact that this will be Canada's first outing at this level since 2003, the Zimbabweans should be the favourites in this encounter.

They have shown their positivity in attacking the ball in the field and some of their batsmen have demonstrated intelligent capability. They also have good potential in the bowling department that can only flourish with experience.

Canada have an older squad, including four of their players from the 2003 World Cup in South Africa - John Davison, their captain, Desmond Chumney, Ashish Bagai and Sanjayan Thuraisingam.

Davison also holds the record for the fastest World Cup ton, against the West Indies in 2003 at Centurion, where he blazed 111, reaching his hundred off just 67 balls.

The other team in the competition, Bermuda, coached by former West Indies batsman Gus Logie, will be without Clay Smith, their captain, who is still recovering from a long-term knee injury, and will be lead by Janeiro Tucker.

The competition is part of the ICC programme to step up the level of play for the six ICC associate members ahead of next year's World Cup in the West Indies. The other four - Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland, are expected to play at least 64 ODIs before March, (some have already been played), including fixtures against full member countries.

Officiating over the series will be ICC Umpire of the Year, Australian Simon Taufel, along with Roger Dill, who will become the first associate and affiliate panel umpire to stand in an ODI.