A pair of scorching half-centuries by opener Ruvindu Gunasekera concluded a dominant week for the left-hander and his teammates as Canada swept the pair of Twenty20 matches over USA.
By Peter Della Penna in King City, Ontario (on Twitter)
DreamCricket.com's coverage on site from Canada during the 2013 Auty Cup tour is sponsored by New Inning Foundation.
A pair of scorching half-centuries by opener Ruvindu Gunasekera concluded a dominant week for the left-hander and his teammates as Canada swept the pair of Twenty20 matches over USA, by 5 wickets in the early match followed by a 78-run win to end the Sunday doubleheader, at Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City, Ontario.
"Basically we didn't play in partnerships," USA captain Timil Patel said after the day's play. "On this kind of wicket where this ball is turning, we need to play in partnerships but we didn't stick to the game plan. Everyone's talented and they can play cricket at the higher level but we just need to apply ourselves and perform better."
USA won the toss and elected to bat in the first Twenty20, which had an hour delayed start due to a damp outfield from Saturday’s rain. The visitors made two changes from the 50-over match, bringing in Usman Rehman and Steven Taylor for Adrian Gordon and the injured Ryan Corns. Canada made one change, swapping out Nitish Kumar for incoming T20 captain Rizwan Cheema.
USA struggled badly to make 106 for 9 in their 20 overs with only three players making more than 10 runs. Poor running between the wickets plagued USA in the game with three runouts among the nine wickets to fall.
Canada’s pace attack produced a back of a length line that USA’s top order found difficult to score off. It took until the fifth over to dislodge Timothy Surujbally with a Henry Osinde short delivery that was gloved to the wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai for 6, ending USA’s biggest partnership of the innings at 22. Nicholas Standford only lasted 3 balls when he was runout after sacrificing himself when Taylor called for a run behind point that was denied by Usman Limbada’s outstanding effort. Both batsmen wound up at the same end and Standford unselfishly gave himself up so that USA’s top batsman could stay as long as possible.
Taylor remained until the ninth over when he went for an audacious reverse sweep and was bowled by legspinner Junaid Siddiqui for 22. It got much worse for USA from there and at one point they looked in danger of being bowled out for under 100.
Ravi Timbawala skipped down the track and missed a flighted delivery from left-arm spinner Salman Nazar to be bowled for 8. Akeem Dodson was runout for 2 trying to turn a single into two for Timil Patel but failed to beat Damodar Daesrath’s relay from the midwicket rope. Timil only managed to stay nine more balls beyond that before he was caught behind for 19 top edging a short ball from Jeremy Gordon to make it 72 for 6 in the 15th.
Danial Ahmed and Karan Ganesh dug in for survival to make sure USA would not be bowled out and added 19 for the seventh wicket until Ganesh slogged Osinde to Limbada at long on for 10 with eight balls to go in the innings. Ahmed was stumped on the penultimate ball of the innings overbalancing to medium pacer Harvir Baidwan before Usman Rehman was runout by Baidwan off his own bowling on the final ball of the innings.
Gunasekera came out blazing away at the top of the order in reply as Canada looked to make quick work of the chase. He reached his half-century in 34 balls with a boundary through mid off against Timil. Canada breezed through their innings, only losing two wickets in the first eight overs and were 14 short of the target before a brief flurry fell towards the end.
Abhimanyu Rajp was the only bowler to genuinely threaten for USA, causing early problems for Gunasekera and snaring Cheema for 9, inducing a lofted drive to long off. Gunasekera was lucky to be given not out on 12 when a very strong LBW shout from Ahmed was denied in the fourth over after the batsman missed a sweep. He went on to score 34 of the 41 runs in a second wicket partnership with Limbada before Canada’s number three was bowled by Karan Ganesh dragging a sweep onto his stumps for 7 to make it 59 for 2.
Image (above) - Abhimanyu Rajp was one of the few bright spots for USA on Sunday, taking 1 for 23 in the first T20 and 1 for 21 in the second, with both wickets being the big hitting Canada T20 captain Rizwan Cheema. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Bagai was runout by Rehman from short third man when he tried to come through for an attempted run by Gunasekera. Baidwan was LBW for 2 to Ahmed after missing a sweep with 12 needed to win. Gunasekera fell for 58 with scores level when he tried to end the match with a final big hit but picked out Rajp at midwicket to give Timil his first wicket of the day. Siddiqui ended the match with 19 balls to spare with a slogged boundary over midwicket.
In the second game, Canada won the toss and batted first. Adrian Gordon came in for Rehman, who didn’t bowl an over in the first Twenty20. Canada made three changes with Bagai, Osinde and Damodar Daesrath exiting for Nitish Kumar, Trevin Bastiampillai and Cecil Pervez.
Gunasekera’s hot bat could have been cooled off in the first over when he drove a full delivery from Mital Patel straight to Ahmed at mid on, but a straightforward chance was shelled and he rubbed salt into the wound for 69 additional runs over the next 12 overs. It was one of five drops in the innings for USA as they looked worn out from Canada’s belligerent batting over the four-day tour. In Mital’s next over, Gunasekera paddled him fine for a pair of boundaries before crashing him through the covers for another to knock the medium pacer out of the attack.
Image (right) - Ruvindu Gunasekera winds up to bludgeon a free hit from Adrian Gordon over midwicket for another boundary in the second T20. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Canada raced away in the first five overs to reach 63 for 0, but two balls into the sixth, Rajp intervened to remove Cheema for the second time on the day for 14, once again caught on the boundary. Gunasekera combined with Kumar for another half-century stand and seemed certain to reach triple figures. He moved to 73 with more than seven overs remaining after smashing Timil down the ground for a four followed by another straight six to begin the 13th. His downfall came going for a reverse sweep on the next ball, sent straight to Gordon at backward point to make it 119 for 2.
Kumar, Limbada, Hansra and Bastiampillai made brief but aggressive contributions down the stretch before Baidwan finished off the innings with a four and six over midwicket on the only two balls he faced to take Canada to 189 for 5. Timil was the leading wicket-taker for USA but an expensive one with his figures finishing at 3 for 40 in four overs.
Taylor was lucky to be given not out on the first ball of USA’s chase after clearly gloving a ball from Jeremy Gordon down the leg side to Bastiampillai, but the error was evened out three overs later when Taylor was judged to be runout by the same umpire for 3 after Hansra fired a throw from square leg to the wicketkeeper Bastiampillai to deny an attempted single by Dodson. Canada made it two wickets in the fourth over when Standford’s frustrating day came to an end, caught behind for 2 with Bastiampillai standing up to the stumps to Baidwan to take a thin edge.
Pervez was arguably the most impressive of Canada’s bowlers in the second match and finished a tight spell with 1 for 8 in four overs. His lone wicket was the third to fall when he beat Ganesh for pace on an attempted drive to make it 22 for 3 to end the sixth.
The lone bright spot in the innings for USA was the partnership between Timbawala and Dodson which added 35 for the fourth wicket across 4.3 overs. Timbawala made 16 before he mistimed a drive against the turn of legspinner Siddiqui and popped him up to Gunasekera running in from long on. Dodson got out for USA’s top score on the day of 44 when he drove left-arm spinner Nazar to Cheema at cover to end the 12th with the score 76 for 5.
Once again, USA went into rapid decline after the fall of the fifth wicket. Timil was the next man out two runs later for 7, driving Siddiqui to Baidwan on the long off rope. Nazar started the 14th by getting Rajp to slog him to long on and should have had a hat trick but only had himself to blame when he put down a simple caught and bowled chance off Surujbally on the next ball. He managed to strike again before the end of the over though, when Ahmed was stumped for the second time on the day stretching too far out of his crease for a defensive prod to make it 82 for 8 in the 14th.
Surujbally was ninth man out for 13 when he slogged Baidwan to long on with four balls to go in the innings. Gordon finished 18 not out for USA at number 10, USA’s second highest score of the match. He batted out the final few deliveries with Mital at the opposite end as USA finished on 111 for 9. Nazar finished with Canada’s best figures taking 3 for 27.
USA’s next tournament action will not be until November when they travel to the UAE for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.