The often-quoted assertion that “Cream always rises to the top” has long since become universally accepted as one of life’s truisms. Its validity was certainly in evidence on Day Two of the three-day, September 13-15, 2021 Canadian National Men’s T20 Championships being played at King City’s Maple Leaf Cricket Club, as no fewer than four of Canada’s established star players were among the day’s outstanding performers.
Canadian National team “regulars” Rayyan Pathan (72), Ravinderpal Singh (56) Saad Bin Zafar (53) and Rodrigo Thomas (50) all scored highly entertaining half-centuries for their respective teams. There were also similar scores from the slightly less famous Bhupinder Singh (54) and Aaditya Vardarajan (53) on a day that was dominated by some outstanding batting.
As Fire’s captain, Canadian National all-rounder Saad Bin Zafar, got the day’s proceedings off to an entertaining start with a belligerent 35 ball 53 that included 3 fours and 4 sixes. Zafar’s knock piloted his team to 131/5 off its 20 overs in the day’s opening encounter against the Shields.
Chasing 132 for victory at a required run rate of 6.6 runs per over, his fellow National team all-rounder Rayyan Pathan was even more aggressive at the top of the Shields batting order. Pathan blasted his way to a 73 ball 38, which was punctuated by 7 sixes and 5 fours. His pyrotechnics was the backbone of the Shields’ cruise controlled response of 132/4 in just 16.5 overs and a most comfortable six-wicket win.
Match 2 of the second day, featuring Fury against the Stallions and which was played simultaneously with the first on an adjacent pitch, was yet another low-scoring but highly exciting encounter. Batting first Fury was bundled out for under a hundred, losing all ten of their wickets for just 93 in 18.5 overs of woeful batting. Seven batsmen failed to score while two, Hamza Tariq (39) and Nikhil Dutta (36), accounted for almost 80% of the eventual total. Bowling for the Shields, Junaid Siddiqui 3/20-4, Shahid Ahmadzai 2/14-4 and Rommel Shahzad 2/22-3.5 were the main wicket-takers.
Incredibly Fury’s posted 83/10 proved to be sufficient as the Stallions’ batsmen were, unbelievably, even more woeful in response all ten of their wickets falling for just 88 to lose by 5 runs. That result had hardly seemed possible after the Stallions’ opening pair of Shreyas Movva (24) and Hiral Patel (21) had posted 46 for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed.
From 46-1 in the ninth over, the remainder of the innings, however, became a procession as the remaining nine wickets fell for just an additional 42 runs. Darshil Patel 4/8-3 and Salman Nazar 3/18-4 were the chief destroyers for the rampant Fury’s bowling attack.
Fresh from their exciting and unexpected 5 run victory over the Stallions, Fury continued its winning ways with a far more emphatic 9 wicket win over Fire in the third match of the day. Fire batting first was dismissed for 130 in 19.4 overs. Opening batsman Aaditya Vardarajan scored a 48 ball 53 at the top of the order, while captain Saad Bin Zafar (27) and veteran T20 specialist Rizwan Cheema (24) were both typically aggressive in their respective knocks of 12 and 19 balls. Varun Sehdev 2/17-3, Salman Nazar 2/19 -4 and Nikhil Dutta 2/37-4 all had two-wicket hauls for Fury.
Chasing 131 for victory, at a 6.55 required run rate, Fury reached its target with consummate ease for the loss of just one wicket. Canada’s National opening bat, Rodrigo Thomas, was at his majestic best in compiling a 32 ball 50 that was graced with 7 silky driven fours and one towering six. Thomas was eventually given out, stumped by wicket-keeper Nicholas Manohar off the bowling of Aaditya Vardarajan. Ruvindu Gunasekera (39) and Hamza Tariq (33), however, then combined for an unbeaten 46 six-run second-wicket partnership to see Fury to victory by 9 wickets.
Fire 130/10 (19.4 Ovrs)Aaditya Vardarajan 53. Saad Bin Zafar 27, Rizwan Cheema 24; Varun Sehdev 2/17-3, Salman Nazar 2/19-4, Nikhil Dutta 2/37 -4.
Fury 136/1. Rodrigo Thomas 50, Ruvindu Gunasekera 39, Hamza Tariq 33.
Fury won by 9 wickets.
The fourth and final match of the Championships’ Day Two, featuring the Shields and the Stallions, was a virtual nail biter. Stallions eventually prevailed by 5 wickets, but with only three balls to spare.
Batting first the Shields reached 131/6 off its 20 overs, largely due to Bhupinder Singh’s 48 ball 54 and Yasir Abbasi’s run-a-ball 46. Junaid Siddiqui 3/30-4 was the Stallions’ main wicket-taker.
In reply, Ravinderpaul Singh’s unbeaten, belligerent, boundary studded 49 ball 64 which included 5 fours and 2 sixes, was sufficient to take the Stallions to 132/5 off 19.3 overs. Victory to the “Horseys” by 5 wickets, albeit with only three balls to spare!
The Championships will conclude on Wednesday, September 15 with four final day matches. Fire vs Stallions and Fury vs Shields both starting at 10.30 am. Fire vs Shields and Fury vs Stallions starting at 2:30 pm
This year’s Global T20 (GT20) Canada will be played in Malaysia between June – July, 2021. With the travel and health restrictions currently in place, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether this year’s tournament could be held in Canada in June –July as scheduled, hence the decision to have it moved to Malaysia. The tournament will return to Canada next year for its 2022 4th Season.
Commenting on the decision to have Malaysia host the 2021 Gt20 3rd Season, which was made jointly by Cricket Canada, the Malaysian Cricket Association and the Tournament’s owners Bombay Sports, Cricket Canada President Rashpal Bajwa said: “Cricketers and fans of cricket within Canada will naturally be disappointed that this year’s third edition of our world class Gt20 tournament cannot be held in Canada due to the ongoing COVID pandemic and the Canadian health guidelines. Cricket Canada, however, understands and fully supports our health authorities. We are also very positive in looking forward to hosting the tournament in Canada, once the pandemic is sufficiently ended and the safety of all concerned can be assured. In the interim we are now very excited to share with all Canadians and cricket lovers across the world that our good friends at the Malaysian Cricket Association have stepped up to help us host this year’s GT20 Season 3 in Malaysia with the necessary local health approvals. We are looking forward to a very exciting Third edition of GT20 Canada in Malaysia!”
Owned and managed by Bombay Sports Co, Ltd. GT20 is currently North America’s only annual professional tournament. The GT20 League features six teams each composed of ten international cricketers from ICC full and associate member nations and including two world renowned marquee players. Each of the six participating 2021 GT20 teams will also include three Canadian national team members and an identical number of Canadian emerging cricketers. There will also be one Malaysian national player on each team.
The Malaysia hosted 2021 GT20 3rd Season will consist of twenty-two matches played over eighteen days. All twenty-two matches will be played at the Kinrara Oval in Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur.
GT20’s first two Seasons played in Toronto during the 2018 and 2019 summer months attracted some of global cricket’s very best T20 players. Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh. Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, David Warner, Steve Smith, Brendon McCullum, Thisara Perera, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine were among the many world renowned T20 players who participated in GT20’s first two seasons.
With an estimated global fan base of well over 1 billion, cricket is one of the world’s most popular and multicultural sports. As one of its annual world class tournaments, GT20 has to date enjoyed unprecedented global reach. GT20’s 2021 Season 3 will certainly receive an electrifying welcome from cricket fans all over the world.
At last year’s Cricket West Indies 2019 Regional Super50 Championships, the Zone A Canada inclusive matches of which were played in St Kitts, Shahid Ahmadzai captured 10 wickets in the seven matches he played. It was a highly commendable performance by the now 31-year-old Ahmadzai (born 15 November 1988), who was finally making his international debut in List A matches for Canada.
During the 2019 Regional Super50 Tournament, Ahmadzai also scored 190 runs from 8 innings to end the Tournament with a commendable 27.14 average. He shared a significant stand of 103 for the third wicket with Nitish Kumar during Canada’s match- winning first-round encounter against the defending Champions the Combined Colleges & Campuses. Ahmadzai’s contribution to the Canadian innings was a career-high 73 from 87 balls that included five fours and four fours.
Just recently announced by the Canadian based premier cricket gear company Arsak Sports as its sponsor player, Shahid Ahmadzai’s journey to the prominence he enjoyed as one of Canada’s outstanding 2019 Super50 performers, has been frustratingly long and arduous. He will readily admit to having been a huge fan of cricket for as long as he can remember. He remembers watching cricket on television as a kid and recalls having had a dream to become a professional cricket player one day.
In pursuit of that dream, Ahmadzai started playing street cricket with other kids in Peshawar, Pakistan when he was just 12 years old. Two years later at the age of 14, he started to play cricket in Afghanistan. Shahid would come home from school, have lunch then go to cricket practice for 3-4 hours, 6 days a week.
As a student at Afghanistan’s Sayed Noor Mohammad Shah Mina High School, Shahid’s potential as a very promising, prodigiously talented all-rounder soon attracted the attention of the country’s cricket authorities. He was scouted while playing school’s cricket and subsequently selected to play for Afghanistan at the U15 and U17 levels prior to his eventual inclusion in the Afghanistan U19 and national team.
Tragedy, however, struck Shahid and his family when his father and older brother were killed in 2002, by relatives associated with the Taliban. He began playing cricket for Afghanistan in 2005 and traveled with the youth squad around the world. In 2009, while playing at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup qualifying rounds in Toronto, he and five of his teammates sought asylum.
Ahmadzai first sought asylum in Canada in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2013 that his claim was heard — and rejected. In the intervening years, the then 29-year-old Shahid was living in Toronto on an open work permit because Canada has suspended deportations of people to war-torn Afghanistan for safety reasons.
With only a Grade 10 education from Afghanistan, Ahmadzai finished high school in Toronto while working in factories, retail jobs, and plumbing. He subsequently also became a Uber driver. Throughout his personal trials and tribulations, he never forgot about his cricket dreams and didn’t ever give up on one day fulfilling his dreams!
Not long after his September 2009 arrival in Canada, Shahid started playing recreationally. He first started to play cricket with the Ontario Cricket Academy(OCA). He played with OCA for about four to five years before leaving to play with the Canadian Cricket Club (CCC).
In 2017, Shahid was selected to represent the Canadian national team in its AUTY Cup fixture against the USA. “That was a great opportunity which I feel really catapulted my career.!
For almost ten years Shahid was engaged in a rigorous routine “I’d get home between 4:30 - 5 a.m. after driving Uber for hours during the night. I’d catch a few hours of sleep, before rushing to my cricket practice at 10:30 in the morning and staying there until 8 p.m. After which I’d get back home to shower and then start taking (Uber) orders to start the cycle all over again,” said Ahmadzai, who has been financially supporting his widowed mother and brother in Kabul.
Shahid subsequently applied twice for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and was rejected both times. His application was finally accepted in 2019; following his third submission.
As if in celebration of his Canadian permanent resident status finally being approved Shahid was in June 2019, selected to play for the Edmonton Royals franchise team in the 2019 Global T20 Canada tournament. In September 2019, he was named in Canada’s squad for the 2019 Malaysia Cricket World Cup Challenge League A tournament. The following month, he was named in Canada’s squad for the 2019–20 Regional Super50 tournament in the West Indies. He made his List A debut on 8 November 2019, for Canada in the 2019–20 Regional Super50 tournament.
Now having made his mark by establishing himself as an obviously talented all-rounder, capable of outstanding achievements with both bat and ball, Shahid admits to enjoying both roles equally! His personal objectives as a Canadian cricketer from heron in are simple and straightforward. “I want to do good. I would love the opportunity to get back ODI status for Canada. We have a lot of great talent in Canada, I’m hopeful that it is achievable!”
With his many all-round talents at this disposal and his recently provided access to Arsak’s Sports outstanding cricket gear, there’s now every reason to believe in Shahid Ahmadzai’s capabilities for achieving not only his own personal objectives but also those of Canada’s national team as well!
Cricket Canada has announced the names of a strong fourteen member Men’s Senior Team Squad to participate in the 2020 International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup Challenge League A. The Tournament, which will be a part of the qualification process for the 2023 ICC Word Cup, will be held in Malaysia from March 14 – 27, 2020. Canada will play fifty 0vers matches against ICC Division A country teams representing Denmark, Qatar, Singapore, Vanuatu and hosts Malaysia during the Tournament.
Canada’s 14 member ICC 2020 Challenge Cup Squad will be captained by its experienced opening batsman Navneet Dhaliwal (pictured). In 30 List A (fifty-overs) matches played to date in Canadian colours, Dhaliwal has scored 1027 runs at an impressive 39.50 average, with two centuries and five half centuries. Nitish Kumar, Abrash Khan, Ravinderpal Singh, Harsh Thaker, Varun Sehdev and Srimantha Wijeyeratne, will provide batting support to Dhaliwal.
Canada’s bowling attack will be centred around the front line spin of experienced campaigners Saad Bin Zafar, Nikhil Dutta, Salman Nazar and Shahid Ahmedzai. They will be ably supported by the part-time spin offerings of Nitish Kumar and Dhaliwal himself. Romesh Eranga and Faizal Jamkhandi are the only two seamers included in the squad, the wicket-keeping duties for which will be shared by Srimantha Wijeyeratne and Armaan Kapoor.
Experienced South African Amarinder Bhinder will be the Head Coach for the Canadian Squad, which will be managed by Carlos Ragoonath. Surendra Seeraj (Assistant Coach), Daulat Khan (Asst Coach/Analyst) and Tejash Patel (Physio) will be the other members of the Canadian Squad’s management team.
The full squad (in alphabetical order) with their respective roles is as follows:
Canada lost to a strong Barbados team today in the Super 50 tournament.
Canada batted first and lost their first wicket in the second over, Jeet Mehta leg before to Cummins. Pathan was caught in the next over, 13/2. Cummins struck twice more, dismissing Kumar and Thaker to reduce Canada to 24/4. Mann (44) helped stage a recovery, but had little support. When he was out Canada were 108/7. Shahid Ahmadzai made 39* but Canada were bowled out for 154 in 44 overs.
Barbados lost three wickets gut knocked off the runs inside 23 overs.
The Canadian squad lost to Jamaica today in the Windies Super 50 competition. Canada posted 243/7, another good batting performance led by 65 from Nitish Kumar, and at one point had Jamaica in trouble at 97/4.
Canada won the toss and chose to bat. Pathan made 13 before he was bowled by Thomas but Mehta and Kumar brought up the fifty in the 10th over. Their partnership reached sixty before Mehta was caught behind for 33. Kumar was joined by Thaker, and they brought up the hundred in the 23rd over, Kumar reaching his personal half century soon after. Thaker made 18 before he was caught at mid-off, 119/3. Kumar made 65 before he was caught and bowled. Kanwarpal Thagur made a useful 43, taking Canada past 200. Kaleelm Sala (23) and Movva (26) hit well in the final ovbers to allow Canada to make 243/7.
Kanwar Mann was asked to open the bowling with his left arm spin, and this paid off with two wickets in his first over. Spin took the third wicket - Shahid Ahmadzai bowling McCarthy, and when Thaker had Fudadin caught behind, Canada seemed favourites with Jamaica 97/4 in the 25th over. Jamaican captain Rovmon Powell had other ideas, and took the attack to the Canadian bowlers, reaching his fifty from only 27 balls. This turned the match in Jamaica's favour and they ran out winners by four wickets, Powell reaching his century.
An outstanding performance by Canada’s development team resulted in a resounding victory over last year’s champions, Combined Colleges today. The Canadians, put in to bat, put in their best batting performance of the tournament to date, led by a century from Nitish Kumar and 73 from Shahid Ahmadzai, all out for 249 in the last over. A fine all round bowling performance, led by 3 wickets from both Kanwar Mann and Kaleem Sana, bowled out Combined Colleges for 149 and a 100 run victory.
Combined Colleges won the toss and put Canada in to bat. The Canadians again lost an early wicket, Shereyas Movva caught behind in the third over. This brought in Nitish Kumar who appeared in good form, hitting the boundary with three classy cover drives early on. Jeet Mehta battled through a tough start and started to play his shots, the fifty coming up in 12 overs. They put on 80 before Mehta was run out. Shahid Ahmadzai came in and he and Kumar put on 103 before Kumar was finally out but not before completed an excellent century (102 from 99 balls with 14 fours). Ahmadzai made 73 from 88 balls, before being bowled hitting out in the 47th over. There was a collpase towards the end of the innings, the last 5 wickets falling for 9 runs in 3 overs.
Thaker made an early breakthrough, with Morrison caught with the score on 23. Canada then were gifted a wicket, with poor running leading to an easy run out, and Mann secured a leg before decision two balls later- 45/3 in the 9th over. Mann then took the prized wicket of CCC captain Braithwaite in his next over, bowled by a well flighted delivery. He took the 5th wicket as well in a great spell of bowling, having Mcatty caught behind. Yax Patel piled on the pressure with two more wickets, another catch by the keeper, and a caught and bowled to reduce CCC to 85/7. A stubborn partnership was broken by Kaleem Sana, a short ball leading to Movva’s third catch behind the stumps and he also took Canada to victory taking the final two wickets, both clean bowled.
The Canadian development squad played their second match in the West Indies regional 50 over competition today, taking on Barbados. A patient 76 from Arslan Khan allowed them to post a total of 161 against a strong Barbados bowling attack. Barbados had little trouble knocking off the runs, with a useful contribution from Canadian Nicholas Kirton.
Canada won the toss and chose to bat. They were in early trouble, with both openers gone in the third over, one to a leg before decision and Pathan bowled trying for a big drive. Nitish Kumar was the next to go, edging a lifting delivery to the keeper- 15/3. Arslan Khan and Shahid Ahmadzai concentrated on survival, but Ahmadzai was caught behind for 6 (21) with the score 29/4 in the 15th over. Tathgur (5) helped Arslan Khan take the score to 50 before being caught in the deep. The 100 came up in the 36th over with 6 wickets down, and Arslan Khan brought up a patient fifty from 105 balls in the next over. He went on to 76 (125 balls) before he was dismissed. Kaleem Sana and Harmandeep Singh put on useful runs in the final overs as Canada were all out for 161 in the penultimate over.
Barbados got off to a quick start, bringing up the 50 in the 10th over without loss. The spinners slowed the scoring date, and then Shahid Ahmadzai broke the partnership, getting a favourable leg before decision. That brought in Canadian national team player Nicholas Kirton, representing Barbados in this tournament. He and Kjorn Ottley had little trouble steering Barbados to victory in 30 overs. Kirton finished with 54*, finishing the match with a six and a four. .
Cricket Canada is the official governing body for the sport of cricket in Canada. It is a not-for-profit organization recognized by the International Cricket Council, the Government of Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee.