World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Canada looking to kick off come-back
Qualifying for the tournament by way of victory in this year's Americas T20 Division one, Canada come to Scotland hoping to reverse a ten-year trend of decline which culminated in their losing ODI status last year and dropping down to World Cricket League Division 3 after taking the wooden spoon in Division 2 in Windhoek in January.
Veteran Rizwan Cheema takes over the captaincy from Jimmy Hansra for what will likely be the last campaign for the big-hitting batting all-rounder, as well as for fellow veteran Khurram Chohan. Chohan has been one of his countries most consistent wicket takers, and his right arm pace will be a crucial comliment to the in-form Cecil Pervez and the returning Jeremy Gordon as Canada's pace attack at least looks closer to full-strength than it did in Namibia.
Not so the spin section however, as Canada's leading wicket taker in the Americas Qualifier, promising off-spinner Nikhil Dutta, has dropped out of the squad in deference to his commitments with the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the CPL. Hiral Patel has been called up as cover to join fellow left armer Saad Bin Zafaar and off-spinner Sasheed Keshvani, with Hansra and Cheema himself providing part-time options.
For his part, Cheema announced his arrival in Scotland with a blistering 98 off 36 balls as Canada bounced back from defeat to Western Districts to blaze past Namibia in their second warm-up match. Young Nitish Kumar has also looked in good nick at the top of the order, and in Hansra and keeper Hamza Tariq there's some quick-scoring potential in the middle order, but in the improbably strong Group B even this somewhat stronger Canada squad is likely to find itself outgunned.
With a punishing schedule culminating in matches against Aghanistan, Scotland and the Netherlands on consecutive days, their first two games, against Kenya and Oman, become absolute must-win matches if Cheema's men are to hold out any hope of reching the playoffs.
Star Man: Rizwan Cheema. The 36-year old skipper is still seeing the ball well and has the muscle to clear the ropes effortlessly, as he showed when he teed off against Namibia yesterday. Whether he can repeat the performance against tougher opponents remains to be seen however.
Players to watch: Nitish Kumar, the 21 year-old right handed opener from Scarborough, was Canada's second-top run scorer in the 2012 edition of the Qualifier, and since then has struck two international centuries for his country. Cecil Pervez has impressed with the new ball in Canada's last two tournaments and should enjoy the conditions.
CricketEurope verdict: There are hints of recovery in Canadian cricket, and in Dutta and Kumar they have two potential future stars, but even with Dutta present Group B was likely to be too tough for a team in a rebuilding phase. Unlikely to make the play-offs.
CANADA: Rizwan Cheema (captain), Saad Bin Zafar, Khurram Chohan, Navneet Dhaliwal, Satsimranjit Dhindsa, Jeremy Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Amarbir Hansra, Shaheed Keshvani, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel, Cecil Pervez, Junaid Siddiqui, Hamza Tariq, Srimantha Wijeyeratne