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USA Cricket: Gunasekera ton follows USA collapse, Canada wins 1st innings points at 2013 Auty Cup
by DreamCricket USA
Jul 27, 2013

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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.

First innings scorecard I Second innings scorecard

USA headed into lunch at 121 for 3 as favorites to overhaul Canada’s first innings total of 228, but a middle order collapse after play resumed resulted in a 45-run first innings lead for the host side before Canada opener Ruvindu Gunasekera ended play with an unbeaten century to conclude the two-day 2013 Auty Cup match at Maple Leaf CC in King City, Ontario. Canada retains the Auty Cup after securing a first innings lead in a drawn match for the second year in a row.

“I’m just trying to work my game into building long innings, batting for long and getting a few big scores under my belt,” Gunasekera said at the end of the second day’s play. “For the team, I think it’s just a culture of winning that we need. We had a few years where we lost quite a few games so if we can get a winning buildup to the [ICC World Twenty20] Qualifiers that would be great.”

USA suffered two setbacks in the morning session after resuming on 20 for 1, but otherwise held the upper hand over the first two hours. Akeem Dodson only added five more to his overnight score before a tentative defensive prod to medium pacer Harvir Baidwan resulted in an inside edge onto his stumps for 13. Legspinner Junaid Siddiqui removed the other overnight batsman, Timothy Surujbally, for 24 when he tempted the right hander into a slog with mid on and mid off up in the circle. A skied chance carried almost to the boundary but Gunasekera ran back 30 yards from mid off before completing a diving catch just inside the rope to make it 55 for 3.

Ravi Timbawala was joined by Karan Ganesh and the pair took USA through the second hour of play without any hiccups. Timbawala offered two half-chances off left-arm spinner Salman Nazar, one a leaping one-handed effort at midwicket on 5 and a low return chance diving forward on 13, but otherwise looked very assured at the crease and got excellent support from Ganesh.

Image (right) - USA's Ravi Timbawala pushes for a run through point as part of his 44 on day two of the Auty Cup two-day match against Canada. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]

Timbawala hit Nazar out of the attack after skipping down the track for a straight six in the 32nd over while Ganesh struck a series of boundaries through the covers off Siddiqui. Canada captain Jimmy Hansra cycled through multiple bowlers, trying himself, Rizwan Cheema and Damodar Daesrath to no avail as his side struggled to find a way to end the stand. Timbawala entered the lunch break on 40 off 91 balls while Ganesh was on 28 off 64 with the partnership at 66 runs as USA added 101 for the loss of just two wickets in the session.

Ganesh and Timbawala got off to a sluggish start in the second session, scoring 12 runs off the first six overs as Nazar returned for a fresh spell and built pressure with a pair of maidens. Ganesh cracked in Nazar’s fourth over after lunch when he creamed a full delivery back at the bowler’s head, but Nazar held his nerve and without flinching took a stunning return catch to remove Ganesh for 35. Hansra then called on Baidwan to replace Cecil Pervez from the opposite end in the following over and the move worked to perfection. Timbawala was beaten for pace on Baidwan’s fifth ball and struck on the knee roll, given LBW almost immediately for 44.

Any hopes that USA could rebuild were dashed by Nazar, who used clever variations in pace and flight to have both Timil Patel and Ryan Corns stumped for 4 and 3 respectively. Patel had just pulled Nazar for a boundary and on the very next ball came dancing down the track for the first time but came nowhere near the pitch of the ball and was several yards short of his ground when Bastiampillai dislodged the bails. Two overs later, Corns stretched too far forward trying to defend and failed to cover the turn as Bastiampillai made him pay for dragging his back foot fractionally out of the crease. USA had lost four wickets for seven runs in the space of four overs to go from 134 for 3 to 141 for 7.

Image (left) - Left-arm orthodox spinner Salman Nazar wiped out USA's middle order with 3 for 45. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]

“The same happened to us [in the first innings], we lost a bunch of wickets in the end after a long partnership,” Gunasekera said. “It’s a wicket where the set batsmen have to carry on and score runs. I think a couple of guys batted really well in the middle, Karan Ganesh and [Ravi Timbawala]… If they went on it would’ve been tougher. We were worried at lunch. They needed about 100 runs in the second session with seven wickets in hand. It’s a wicket where when you get set it gets really easy, but when you start off it’s hard.”

USA’s lengthy tail was left exposed but fought hard to add 42 runs for the final three wickets with 29 of them courtesy of Abhimanyu Rajp. However, he was partially at fault for the runout of Danial Ahmed for 8, calling for a tight single to the leg side with Ahmed never a chance to make his ground. Siddiqui fielded in front of square leg and underhanded to Bastiampillai, who had more than enough time to break the stumps with Ahmed three yards short. Pervez trapped Usman Rehman leg before without scoring and Rajp was the last man to go when he drove Baidwan to Gunasekera at cover as USA finished all out for 183 in 70.2 overs at the stroke of tea.

“Batting wise we had them until the lunch break. I think we should’ve just had a better batting effort and we would’ve been able to get the result on our side,” Timbawala said after the match. “I felt yesterday after lunch, three sessions went our way. Today after lunch unfortunately things didn’t go our way and that’s why we lost.”

Nazar and Baidwan each finished with three wickets after teaming up to spark the USA collapse in the first 40 minutes after lunch. Rajp faced the third most deliveries, 58, in the USA innings proving that there was nothing wrong with the pitch. That point was underscored by Gunasekera’s chanceless innings in the final session of play.

Image (right) - Canada's Ruvindu Gunasekera showed no nerves in the 90s, pulling a short ball from Steven Taylor over midwicket. He raised his century three balls later off just 92 deliveries. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]

After four leg byes on the first ball of Canada’s second innings, Gunasekera struck four boundaries off his next 16 deliveries faced to set the tone for his rapid quest for three figures. He reached his half-century off 59 balls, stroking another two fours and a six along the way. Either side of his 50 he lost a partner, first Bastiampillai for 5 and then Kumar for 32. Bastiampillai received a short of a length ball from Rehman that reared up and clipped the top of the bat and glove to balloon up to Dodson behind the stumps for an easy catch. Kumar tried smashing Steven Taylor’s offspin over mid off, but mistimed his drive and couldn’t clear Rajp to make it 98 for 2 in the 18th.

Gunasekera kept motoring along, carving anything full through the covers while anything short was dispatched over midwicket. He was particularly harsh to Taylor, punishing him for a six straight down the ground and two fours for 14 runs in the 23rd over. Canada started their innings with a minimum of 33 overs to bat in the final session, but Hansra stayed at the crease with Gunasekera rather than call off the match with an hour to go in order to give his opener a chance to make his century.

After starting the 31st with a boundary off Taylor, Gunasekera took a single to go to 98 and was back on strike one ball later. He brought up his ton with a two guided to third man and after blocking out the final ball of the over, Hansra and Patel shook hands and agreed to call off the match two overs early. Hansra contributed 18 to the 70-run unbroken third wicket partnership he shared with the centurion.

Image (left) - Canada's Ruvindu Gunasekera walks off unbeaten on 100 in the second innings of the two-day Auty Cup match. Gunasekera also top-scored in the first innings for Canada with 72. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]

USA and Canada return to action on Saturday when they are scheduled to square off in a 50-over contest at Maple Leaf CC beginning at 11 a.m. However, a 60% chance of thunderstorms is in the forecast in King City from 1 p.m. through the rest of the day. DreamCricket.com will have a full match report, sponsored by New Inning Foundation, following the end of play.

 
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