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Canada opens Trophy campaign in style

Canada opened up its 2001 ICC Trophy campaign with an impressive nine-wicket victory over Singapore at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club today.

The host side made early inroads into the Singapore top order after being asked to field first, removing captain Johann Peiris (3) and Narayanan Balasubbramanian (0) from consecutive balls in the second over.

When young middle order batsman Josh Dearing (77) was joined at the crease by Zubin Schroff (27) with the score at 3/48 in the nineteenth over, it looked as though a short contest was on the cards. However the pair put together a partnership of increasing confidence and momentum, adding 67 off 108 deliveries.

It took a quicker delivery from tidy left arm orthodox spinner Barry Seebaran (2/24 from ten overs) to break the stand, inducing an edge to wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai to dismiss Schroff.

Dearing, the dominant scorer of the innings, reached his half-century on his maiden ICC Trophy appearance from 71 balls, a display which by that stage had already included three fours and two wonderful sixes down the ground. With the total at 132, he became the sixth Singapore batsman to be removed, by a skidding ball from fast medium bowler Sanjay Thuraisingham (2/20 off ten overs).

His departure signalled the beginning of the end for the Singaporeans, with the final seven wickets falling for just 54 runs to bring an end to the innings at 169, three deliveries short of their full allotment.

Thuraisingham, who showed an ability to generate handy pace despite a short stature and stocky build, and Seebaran were the most effective Canadian bowlers.

Two players with influence from major cricketing countries were the other wicket-takers, with Australian John Davison and New Zealander Ian Billcliff, who took a sensational return catch to dismiss Sandeep Seth (5), snaring one apiece.

A light sprinkling of rain during the lunch break briefly threatened to ruin what had been a wonderfully warm but humid day up until that point, but play resumed on time with no adjustments required.

Openers Nicholas Degroot and Ishwar Maraj set about the target with real intent, particularly the left-handed Maraj who attacked with unorthodox menace, playing some effective lofted horizontal bat shots down the ground.

The pair racked up an even hundred in just 19 overs together before Dearing wrecked Maraj's castle with his score on 58, an innings which spanned just 56 balls and included eight boundaries.

Degroot immediately boosted his scoring rate, and in tandem with Muneeb Diwan (22), wiped off the remaining 70 runs smartly to ensure an efficient win with 94 balls to spare.

Degroot finished up with a polished 82 off 108 balls including nine fours, an innings which contained as many rasping drives as delicate late cuts to toy with the Singapore field.