By Jamie Lloyd
The opening game of the Global T20 sees the home side from Toronto taking on the ‘westies’ from Vancouver. Being the first match of the tournament all eyes will be on the performance of the pitch, with King City historically producing low, slow ‘bunsen-burner’ type decks.
The opening game of the Global T20 sees the home side from Toronto taking on the ‘westies’ from Vancouver. Being the first match of the tournament all eyes will be on the performance of the pitch, with King City historically producing low, slow ‘bunsen-burner’ type decks. There has also been a fair amount of rain around the GTA in the lead up, so it will be interesting to see if the grounds drainage has improved on recent seasons.
This will also be Steve Smith’s first match of note since his 12 month ban by Cricket Australia following ‘sandpaper gate’. Will the Toronto faithful embrace the fallen star, or will he receive a chilly reception? Either way his star power, plus the likes of Darren Sammy, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell to name but a few, should guarantee a bumper crowd to kick things off right.
With rumours that a number of players from overseas are yet to arrive in country, the selection of the final elevens may be more a case of who is left to pick, rather than who to leave out? With a little deduction one might conclude that players not yet having an official headshot photo displayed on the GT20.ca website will likely be missing from Thursday afternoons starting sides leaving Toronto with only eleven and Vancouver with twelve.
If the non-profile-pic crew do fail to show, then the Toronto Nationals will be led by the charismatic Sammy, with Steve Smith being joined by Johnson Charles, Anton Devcich, Kieron Pollard and Canadian skipper Nitish Kumar in making up the top 5. Canadian mystery spinner Nikhil Dutta, Hong Kong’s leg spinning all rounder Nizakat Khan, and skipper Sammy should comprise the middle order. In the absence of Muhammad Sami and Mohammad Naveed, Kesrick Williams will lead the pace bowling attack, with Canadian spinners Farhan Malik and Muhammad Umair Ghani left to make up the numbers.
For the Vancouver Knights skipper Gayle and Evin Lewis should make up a potent opening pair, whilst South African journeyman Rassie Van Der Dussen, Chadwick Walton, Andre Russell, Canadian Ruvindu Gunasekera and Bermuda’s Kamau Leverock should fill up the remaining spots in the top 7. Canada’s left arm orthodox spinner Saad Bin Zafar and tearaway quick Jeremy Gordon should join Tim Southee and Sheldon Cottrell in completing the bowling roster. I’m picking Salman Nazar to sit this one out as he offers almost the same set of skills as Bin Zafar.
Likely batting order:
Johnson Charles (wk)
Darren Sammy (C)
Muhammad Umair Ghani
Chris Gayle (C)
Rassie Van Der Dussen
Saad Bin Zafar