Canada storm to T20 World Cup Qualification

The impacts of a disorganised tropical hurricane cleared just in time for Canada to upset the hosts by 39 runs in the competition’s last game, passing the home team to the top of the table on net run rate after trailing them for nearly the entire tournament. Following a comeback victory over the tournament’s hosts, Bermuda, Canada claimed the lone qualifying spot for the 2024 T20 World Cup at the storm-damaged Americas T20 Regional Final in Hamilton today.

Canada and Bermuda’s match on September 30 served as the tournament’s opening act. Bermuda won with an incredible score of 86 runs. Despite closing the distance over the next two days, the weather presented a hazard that prevented Canada from crossing Bermuda. 

A second wicket partnership of 96 runs between Kamau Leverock and Delray Rawlins, Bermuda’s skipper and eventual tournament leading scorer, helped Bermuda win its opening game. Bermuda won 181-9 before Canada’s counterattack had a chance to continue. Canada was finally bowled out for 95 after capturing three wickets during the powerplay to rapidly put the favourites on the back foot. Only Nikkil Dutta and Saad Bin Zafar were able to reach double digits.

Canada swiftly erased its net run rate deficit with three decisive victories over Panama and the Cayman Islands in their final three games, positioning them for a winner-take-all clash with the hosts in the title game. Canada had the opportunity to reclaim a spot in the tournament’s final four thanks to the double round robin format. When Tropical Storm Philippe threatened to stop play, Bermuda held onto their two-point lead and narrowly avoided losing to the Cayman Islands.

Due to severe rain and high winds, the fifth and final day of play was preemptively cancelled out of concern for safety. On the last day, the organisers nevertheless held out hope that the severe weather would subside in time for Bermuda and Canada’s crucial match. To the delight of the local audience, an 18-overs-a-side game was able to be played in the late afternoon after heavy rain forced the cancellation of the Cayman Islands vs. Panama match in the morning.

Canada was having difficulties getting going straight away, so the guests missed the wind, therefore Outerbridge and Rawlins were extra thrifty. When Nicholas Kirton was declared out with three overs remaining and the score was 95-3, the runs finally began to flow. Due to Kirton’s 10-ball 26, Bermuda was assigned a target of 133 runs in 18 overs.

The hosts found it challenging to adapt to the circumstances. It defied sense that the wind would make it tougher to hit short, broad spin. Leverock and Rawlins gave up as the asking rate increased and were both caught by Nikil Dutta in the tenth over.

The visitors wouldn’t be able to return. Allan Douglas Jr. rallied the crowd with some late hitting, but Jeremy Gordon bowled him out for 22 runs after Dilon Heyliger managed to hold onto a sore-looking catch behind the bowling. With seven balls remaining, Canada was able to dismiss Bermuda for 93 runs and qualify for the World Cup thanks to Kaleem Sana’s comeback to run through the tail.

Canada will battle against fellow qualifiers Ireland and Scotland, who earned their spots in the European Final in June, as well as East Asia Pacific champions Papua New Guinea at the 20-team event, which will be co-hosted by the West Indies and the USA in June of next year. The Asia Regional Final in Nepal later this month will determine the first two regional qualification berths, while the Africa Finals in Namibia in November will determine the final two. There are still four openings for regional qualification.

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