June 16th, 2024

Canada proves to be the cricket nail to a U.S. hammer in ICC T20 World Cup opener

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on June 2, 2024.

Canada's Ravinderpal Singh bats the ball back into the field of play with his arm during the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between the United States and Canada at Grand Prairie Stadium, in Grand Prairie, Texas, Saturday, June 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Julio Cortez

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup started with a bang in Texas, with the Canadian men playing their part.

But Canada eventually proved to be the nail to the U.S. hammer.

After the Americans won the toss and elected to field at Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium, Navneet Dhaliwal scored 61 runs and Nicholas Kirton added 51 to lead 23rd-ranked Canada to 194 for five in its 20 overs Saturday night – the highest score by an associate team at the Men’s T20 World Cup.

That set an imposing target of 9.75 runs per over for the 18th-ranked United States.

Canada seemed to be in the driver’s seat with the Americans at 48 for two after eight overs, with opener Steven Taylor dismissed just two balls into the U.S. innings.

At that point in the match, the Americans had just a 5.65 per cent chance of winning, according to ESPNcricinfo’s forecaster.

But Andries Gous and Aaron Jones, the No. 3 and 4 batsmen, combined for 19 runs in a nine-ball ninth over off spinner Nikhil Dutta, Canada’s fifth bowler, and the floodgates opened. Canada’s bowlers had no answers.

Jones finished at 94 not out and Gous contributed 64 in a 131-run partnership as the U.S. replied with 197 for three, reaching the victory target with 14 balls to spare. Jones delivered the coup de grace with his 10th six, capping a seven-wicket victory.

The 14th over proved to be another back-breaker with Jones and Gous combining for a remarkable 33 runs off veteran fast bowler Jeremy Gordon. The 11-ball over included three sixes and two fours – also two no-balls and three wide-balls.

It is the second-most expensive over at a Men’s T20 World Cup, behind only India’s Yuvraj Singh’s 36 against England’s Stuart Broad in 2007, according to Cricinfo.

“I think we put up a really good total “¦ 194 was a really good total considering it to be a World Cup game and a high-pressure game,” said Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar. “It’s not easy to chase but we started off really well as a bowling unit “¦ but the way Aaron Jones started hitting along with Andries Gous, I think they took us out of the game, basically.”

The crowd of some 6,000, according to Cricket Canada, saw how quickly fortunes in the T20 game can change. And Jones drew oohs and aahs for a display of power hitting that saw several moon shots completely exit the stadium.

Jones also hit four fours in his 40-ball innings. Gous slammed seven fours and three sixes in his 46-ball knock.

“Sometimes when you play innings like this one today, you go home and you sleep and then you wake up in the morning and sometimes you say, ‘Whoa, I don’t even know how I batted like that,'” said Jones. “It happened to me probably two or three times in the past. I probably think in the morning is going to be like that for me as well.”

The U.S. batting onslaught produced a slew of tournament and other records

The Americans’ success in overcoming Canada’s 194 total is the third-highest successful run chase in T20 World Cup history and the highest ever by an associate team. England holds the record, having successfully chased South Africa’s 230 for eight in 2016.

Jones’ 10 sixes are second only to West Indies star Chris Gayle’s 11 during his 100 not out against England in 2016. That broke Gayle’s own record of 10 against South Africa in the opening game of the first T20 World Cup in 2007.

The 131-run partnership between Jones and Gous, off 58 balls, stands as the second-best third-wicket stand in a men’s T20 World Cup game. The record belongs to England’s Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan, who combined for 152 runs for the third wicket against Sri Lanka in 2014.

The Jones-Gous partnership is also the best ever for the U.S. for any wicket in the T20 international format. Three of the Americans’ top five T20 partnerships have come up against Canada.

The Jones-Gous partnership also represents the fastest-ever to reach the 100-run mark in a T20 World Cup game. They added 100 runs in 42 balls.

Jones reached his 50 off 22 balls, the fastest-ever half-century by a North American batsman.

The Canadians now head north to face No. 11 Ireland on Friday at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in suburban New York.

Canada’s best-case scenario was to post wins over the U.S. and Ireland ahead of its final Group A games against No. 6 Pakistan and No. 1 India. Now it will have to regroup.

“Going forward, we just want to play positive cricket,” said Zafar. “We have beaten Ireland in the past, so it’s just another game. We just want to play to our potential, learn from the mistakes we did in today’s game and that just come back strong and just take one game at a time and see where it takes us.”

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024.

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