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ICC Intercontinental Cup

Canada's Dhaniram still upbeat despite leading under-strength side

Stand-in Canada captain Sunil Dhaniram is upbeat about his side's chances of beating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their ICC Intercontinental Cup match which gets underway in Toronto on Friday despite the fact that he will be without three important p

James Fitzgerald
UAE could pose home team worries in Toronto following its rain-affected draw in Scotland; outright win would give Arshad's team early lead in tournament
Stand-in Canada captain Sunil Dhaniram is upbeat about his side's chances of beating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their ICC Intercontinental Cup match which gets underway in Toronto on Friday despite the fact that he will be without three important players.
Dhaniram, who replaces regular captain Ashish Bagai who has work commitments, will have to lead a side that is also without opening bowler Umar Bhatti and experienced all-rounder Jon Davison. Coming in for them will be Steve Welsh, Aftab Shamshudeen and Hemnarine Chattergoon and Dhaniram says it gives those players the opportunity to show what they can do at this level.
"We are missing a couple of guys but I think we have the players who can win," said the 38-year-old slow left-arm bowler and middle-order batsman. "I have every faith in the replacements coming in and I know we are going to give it our best shot.
"I have played a few times against the UAE and they are always tough to play against. I think their batting is really their strength with Saqib Ali and Khurram Khan especially. But we will be trying to restrict them and then we will go in and get the heads down and try to get a win."
Dhaniram's men will know it is imperative they get their ICC Intercontinental Cup campaign back on track against the UAE after losing by 45 runs in an enthralling match against the Netherlands last week.
In a game that swung to and fro, the Netherlands' all-rounder Peter Borren took responsibility in the second innings, scoring his maiden first-class century and setting up victory for his side. If Borren ever plays a more crucial innings for the Netherlands, it will certainly be worth seeing.
Mind you, he came close to doing just that on Tuesday when he hit 96 off just 70 balls as his team posted a formidable total of 289-7 in an ODI against Canada at Toronto CSCC. The Dutch ended up winning by 117 runs despite an unbeaten half-century from Dhaniram.
For Canada, the four-day version of the game takes priority from Friday and the quick bowling of Henry Osinde could be key. His performance was a highlight of the ICC Intercontinental Cup match against the Netherlands as he took seven wickets in the match and showed that even though he was batting at number 11, he can still contribute meaningfully in that department too, scoring 60 in the first innings and six not out in the second.
Good form was also shown by Shahzad Khan, Dhaniram and Qaiser Ali with the bat and Bhatti (until he injured his hand) and Kevin Sandher with the ball. So all is certainly not lost for the north Americans.
Meanwhile, the UAE began this tour with a visit to a wet and rainy Ayr to take on Scotland. However, only 46 overs of that match were played with Arshad Ali's team recovering from 18-3 to 174-4 before the rain returned to call a permanent halt to proceedings.
Coming from the heat of the Emirates' summer, Arshad would have been nervous playing in what were typically Scottish conditions so he would have been happy with how his side recovered on day one.
If he was, perhaps, secretly relieved to get away from Ayr with a draw, Arshad will feel he has the ammunition to threaten Canada with an outright win and victory will almost certainly put his side on top of the table at this early stage.
Apart from the captain himself, the team boasts some consistent performers such as Saqib, the experienced Khurram and wicketkeeper-batsman Gayan Silva. There is also plenty of know-how in the bowling line-up with Ahmed Nadeem, Mohammad Tauqir and Javed Ismael having been on the scene for some time now.
With rain having followed the UAE across the Atlantic Ocean, there may be some interruptions over the four days of the match but both teams need a victory so expect the players to make the most of conditions when they do get out on to the field.
Canada in particular will be anxious not to lose two matches in a row at home. Given there is a new format for this tournament in place it is not yet clear how many defeats a team can afford to suffer and still hope to qualify for the final but two successive losses would be a serious blow to Canada's chances of making another final, as it did in 2004 and 2006.
Canada (from): Sunil Dhaniram (captain), Geoff Barnett, Trevin Bastiampillai, Ashif Mulla, Mohsin Mulla, Henry Osinde, Qaiser Ali, Kevin Sandher, Shahzad Khan, Durand Soraine, Steve Welsh, Aftab Shamshudeen, Hemnarine Chattergoon.
UAE (from): Arshad Ali (captain), Mohamed Tauqir, Khuram Khan, Ahmed Nadeem, Javed Ismail, Saqib Ali, Gayan Silva, Naeemuddin Aslam, Umar Dar Farooq, Sameer Zia, Amjad Javed, Shadeep Silva, Zahid Shah, Qasim Zubai.
Umpires: Roger Dill and Courtney Young
The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception three years ago and now the ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada earlier this year in the 2006-07event.
The final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 will take place in November 2008 at a venue yet to be decided.

James Fitzgerald is ICC Communications Officer