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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
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An excellent start was wasted by USA after being sent in to bat as Raza-ur-Rehman wrecked the hosts lineup with an incisive spell of left-arm spin to take 5 for 27, propelling Canada to a victory by four wickets in a 50-over match on Friday at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida. USA appeared set to post a minimum of 250 after a platform laid by William Perkins and Timothy Surujbally, but the home side went from 94 for 0 to 194 all out before Canada chased the target with 19 balls to spare.
USA made six changes from the lineup that played the two-day Auty Cup match on Wednesday and Thursday. Danial Ahmed, Adil Bhatti, Ryan Corns, Naseer Jamali, Andy Mohammed and Japen Patel made way for Barrington Bartley, Neil McGarrell, Mital Patel, Hammad Shahid, Saami Siddiqui and Nicholas Standford. Canada made a pair of changes as Manny Aulakh and Srimantha Wijeyratne sat out in favor of Henry Osinde and Jeremy Gordon.
Perkins and USA captain Steven Taylor opened the batting for USA and took the home side to 34 without loss when Taylor pulled up lame after completing a sharp single midway through the seventh over and had to retire hurt on 14. Surujbally came in and picked up where Taylor left off as he and Perkins cruised along against Canada’s opening pace combo of Osinde and Gordon.
However, the introduction of leg-spinner Junaid Siddiqui halted USA’s momentum, with Surujbally in particular struggling to turn over the strike. As Surujbally struggled for runs at the other end, Perkins took it upon himself to be the aggressor and paid for it with his wicket when he drove uppishly at a full and wide delivery from Rehman and sent a catch to Jimmy Hansra in the covers. Perkins walked off for 46 at 94 for 1 in the 23rd and before long it was clear that USA’s middle order couldn’t handle the pressure that began to be exerted by Siddiqui and Rehman.
Standford lasted eight balls before driving Siddiqui in the air to Rehman at point to register a duck on debut. Karan Ganesh failed to get his feet moving and was struck in front of the stumps by Rehman to be out leg before for 1. Surujbally finally perished for 28 in 54 balls when he played around a full toss from his main tormentor Siddiqui as USA spiraled downward to 100 for 4 in the 25th over.
McGarrell and Timil Patel briefly restored sanity to USA’s innings with a 44-run stand for the fifth wicket. It ended when Canada captain Rizwan Cheema dismissed Patel for 22, the only wicket taken by pace on the day for Canada. Bartley and McGarrell added 35 more for the sixth wicket before McGarrell was bowled by Rehman for 26 to make it 179 for 6 in the 43rd.
Two overs later, Bartley was bowled for 23 to give Rehman his fourth as USA slipped to 186 for 7. Shahid was caught at long on trying to slog Rehman over the ropes but fell for 1 to give Rehman his five-wicket haul. The innings wrapped up three balls into the 50th when Saami Siddiqui and Mital Patel got into a mixup that left Siddiqui run out for 6. With Steven Taylor unable to resume his innings, USA was all out for 194. Rehman’s 5 for 27 included four maidens in his 10 overs while Junaid Siddiqui’s spell was just as debilitating to USA as he finished with 2 for 29 in 10 with two maidens.
Canada had a brief hiccup at the start of their chase when Cheema was caught for 1 thanks to a brilliant tumbling catch by substitute fielder Adil Bhatti running to his right at mid off to give Shahid his maiden wicket at the senior level for USA. Hiral Patel and Ruvindu Gunasekera took the score to 70 in the 16th over before Patel was dismissed. Shahid had dropped him in the previous over off the bowling of McGarrell, but Patel failed to make the most of the reprieve, only lasting three more balls before Ganesh took a spectacular return catch diving to his right in front of Gunasekera at the non-striker’s end to remove Patel for 23.
Rehman’s stellar form with the bat from the two-day match failed to carry over into Friday after he was pinned lbw first-ball to put Ganesh on a hat-trick. Gunasekera fell for a run a ball 40 to Timil Patel thanks to a diving catch running in from long on by sub fielder Adrian Gordon to make it 82 for 4 in the 19th.
Just when it seemed like the tide was turning USA’s way, Usman Limbada thwarted any ambitions of victory by the hosts with an assured innings. Rather than get wrapped up in pressure by spin bowling as USA’s batsmen had, Limbada calmly eased the ball around in tandem with Damodar Daesrath as the two produced a 92-run stand for the fifth wicket. While former West Indies Test spinner McGarrell presented the biggest challenge, neither batsman succumbed to McGarrell during his miserly spell of 0 for 28 in 10 overs.
The stand finally came to an end when Daesrath was run out by Ganesh for 39 with Canada 21 runs away from victory with more than eight overs remaining. Limbada fell in the next over for 64 to Timil Patel as he failed to clear Standford at backward point with an attempted cut to make it 183 for 6.
Canada crawled through the next several overs and entered the 47th still needing eight runs to win. Hamza Tariq then hit the first ball for six and then Hansra hit the fifth ball of the over for another maximum over midwicket to seal the match, spoiling Timil Patel’s figures in the process as he finished with 2 for 49 in 8.5 overs. Ganesh took 2 for 24 in eight overs with his off-spin while medium pacer Shahid finished with 1 for 32 in eight overs with a maiden opening the bowling.
Canada’s tour of the USA concludes on Saturday when the two sides are scheduled to play a pair of Twenty20 matches at the Central Broward Regional Park. A live video stream provided by Cricket Canada in partnership with CBC Sports will be available from 9 a.m. The stream can be viewed at www.cbcsports.ca.