Updated: Oct 07, 2023 08:15 AM
Winner takes all: Bermuda will be hoping to be all smiles come the end of the crucial game against Canada for a place at the T20 World Cup (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
After a week of action in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier, it all comes down to one crucial clash between Bermuda and Canada at North Field this afternoon.
The two countries have never been to a T20 World Cup and one of them will be heading to the tournament for the very first time at the end of today’s proceedings.
Bermuda hit Canada with the surprise element in the first match of the tournament last Saturday to win by 86 runs, in what was their first victory over the Canadians in international cricket since 2008.
Rivalry resumed: Canada will be keeping an eye on Kamau Leverock’s explosive batting (Photograph by Ras Mykkal)
That crucial opening-day victory remains the only difference between the sides as Niraj Odedra’s men sit on top of the standings ahead of a pivotal encounter to decide who goes to next year’s showpiece in the United States and the West Indies.
After the cancellation of yesterday’s matches because of Tropical Storm Philippe, which saw all the four participating teams awarded a point each, Bermuda maintained their two-point advantage on top of the table. Bermuda would have faced Cayman Islands while Canada were due to take on Panama.
If the weather conditions make it unlikely for the match to go ahead, Bermuda will benefit and secure qualification since a point each will go the two teams. It is something the tournament organisers are trying by all means to avoid, with chances high that each side will get at least the minimum overs for a result to be obtained.
Just to show how the two teams have dominated proceedings, Bermuda have Kamau Leverock as the leading batter with 190 runs, the explosive left-hander agonisingly missing out on his second T20I century when he fell for 98 against Cayman.
He is followed by Canada’s Aaron Johnson on 172, the right-handed batter the only one to score a century so far in the tournament after his unbeaten 121 in the clash with Panama while the home side’s captain Delray Rawlins is third with 105.
Canadian fast bowler Kaleem Sana leads the bowling charts with 12 wickets while Bermuda’s left-arm spinner Derrick Brangman is one behind.
Saad Zafar, the Canada captain, highlighted how they were now where they wanted to be heading into the last game, having recovered strongly from the opening day defeat and boosted their net run-rate, something that could prove decisive at the end of the tournament.
Canada recovered from opening day defeat to Bermuda to win three matches (Photograph by Ras Mykkal)
“I’m feeling good, feeling confident,’’ Zafar said. “We were able to recover from the first game and we are where we want to be before the end of the last day, we’ve achieved that.
“We wanted to put the net run-rate concern away, we didn’t want to go into the last game where we had to win the game as well and also win it with a margin so that thing is out of the equation now.
“It’s just about focusing on the game and playing to our potential and if we’re able to do that, we should be able to win the game.
“In the last three games we’ve shown that now we are in a positive mindset and we have that momentum going into the last day.
“Coming into the tournament we always knew that even if we had won the first game, it could have still come down to the last so it doesn’t really matter to us that we lost the first game.
“We have to put that in the past and just focus on that one game, if we play to our potential we should be able to win the game.
“We still believe we’re a better team to adjust and adapt to a situation or conditions quicker than we did that day.”
Canada were merciless in their last match against Cayman to bowl out their opponents for 30, the seventh joint lowest total in men’s T20Is. The Canadians will be looking for the same kind of approach when they face Bermuda.
“It’s not just about being ruthless, it’s about every individual doing their roles properly,’’ Zafar added.
“I know if everybody stays focused on their roles and on the task at hand, I think we have those kind of match winners in our team that on their day can really damage the opposition.”
“Ideally, we would want a 20-over game. If it comes down to weather conditions which is not in our hands where we have to play a five-over game, we’ll still back ourselves to win the game.
“In a shorter format, anybody can take it, you don’t have time, whoever has the best five overs they’ll take the game but when you’re playing a 20-over game, you still have time to recover and bring the game back to you.
“The longer the game, the better for both teams because in five overs it’s basically like a Super Over.”
• All efforts by The Royal Gazette to speak to the Bermuda camp ahead of the encounter were unsuccessful