Canada loses to North West in final lead-up match

Canada suffered another setback after going into their final warm-up match against North West at Manzil Park, Klerksdorp desperately hoping for an improvement in form.

John Davidson opened the innings with Ishwar Maraj, taking on the pinch-hitter role. He got the innings off to a bright start, taking 18 off the fourth over, and making 30 out of a first wicket partnership of 37 before edging a catch to slip.

Desmond Chumney had another disappointment, making just 4 before he was caught behind and he was quickly followed by Maraj (15), who was lbw, and Billcliff, also lbw for a duck. Joe Harris was bowled first ball, leaving Canada on 53/5 in the 14th over.

Canada's batting line-up has proven frail over the last year, and today was no exception. Fortunately it has some depth, and Fazil Samad and Nicky De Groot put together a useful partnership, Samad playing his usual aggressive style with De Groot more cautious, taking on the sheet anchor role. They took the Canadians past 100 in the 25th over. Samad had reached 46 off 60 balls before he was caught, and the partnership had yielded an invaluable 85.

This brought in Asish Bagai, recovered from his injury, who provided valuable support and in partnership with De Groot took the total past 200. De Groot reached an excellent 50 off 110 balls in the 48th over with a well-struck boundary, but was out next ball. He and Bagai had added 68. Nicholas Ifill came in at 9 and saw out the last two overs with Bagai. Canada finished on 215/7, with Bagai making a creditable 40*.

In the absence of Sanjay Thuraisingam, Davis Joseph and Ashish Patel opened the bowling for Canada, and made a good start. Patel in particular bowled accurately, bowling his first four overs for just 6 runs, before Henderson hit two boundaries in his fifth over. This prompted a change, with Ifill the replacement; he was greeted with delight by Jacobs who smashed three consecutive boundaries in his first over.

John Davidson replaced Joseph at the other end and showed the benefits of playing southern hemisphere cricket in the Canadian winter by immediately picking up a good length and line. De Groot replaced Ifill, and was immediately struck for a big six by Jacobs. After 15 overs North West were 62/0, well up with the run-rate after a slow start.

Henderson and Jacobs progressed steadily, taking their partnership to 89 before Davidson caught Jacobs off the bowling of de Groot. Ifill, returning after his disastrous initial spell, had Mohammed lbw for a duck. But unfortunately he was unable to stem the run flow and after another expensive over, Patel came back, starting with a maiden, and continued his good work conceding only a single off his next over.

Joe Harris kept ringing the bowling changes, but North West maintained steady progress, led by Henderson who reached his 50 from 88 balls with a boundary off Ifill. After 33 overs, North West were 144/2.

Henderson made 77 before being run out by Billcliff, but at that point North West only required 32 runs from 10.4 overs. Arno Jacobs was batting confidently and took North West to victory as Ifill conceded 17 runs from the 44th and final over.

So Canada went down to defeat again, although there were signs of some adjustment to South African conditions. There were positive notes. Sattaur, Bagai and de Groot all batted well, and the fightback from the depths of 53/5 was commendable. Both Davis Joseph and Ashish Patel bowled well. Joseph conceded just 30 runs from his 10 overs, and Patel only 17 from seven. The failure of the upper order, however, is a cause for concern, and finding a fourth or fifth bowler who can keep the runs down will be a challenge.

Canada meet Bangladesh on February 11 in their first match of the World Cup.