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Canadian cricketers defeat Ireland for first-ever win at ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Canada cricket team celebrates Canada cricket team celebrates - The Canadian Press

WESTBURY, N.Y. — Canada staved off an Irish comeback to record its first-ever win at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup on Friday, defeating Ireland by 12 runs to even its record at 1-1.

Rallying from a slow start, Ireland scored 51 runs in its last five overs as it chased a victory target of 138.

Needing 28 runs from the last two overs and then 17 from the last six balls, it managed just four off Jeremy Gordon in the final over, setting off a Canadian celebration.

The 23rd-ranked Canadians sit third in a wide-open Group A behind the United States (2-0) and India (1-0) and ahead of Pakistan (0-1) and Ireland (0-2).

The top two sides will advance to the Super-8 stage.

"A proud moment for me and my team," said Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar.

Canada, one of three debutants at the 20-country tournament along with the co-host U.S. and Uganda, takes on No. 6 Pakistan at the same venue on Tuesday.

The Canadians were put to bat by the 11th-ranked Irish in 27 C heat that felt like 33 C for the late-morning start before an announced crowd of 5,153 at the 34,000-capacity Nassau County International Cricket Stadium

Canada finished at 137 for seven — the highest score in the three matches at the venue to date — with Nicholas Kirton (49 runs) and Shreyas Movva (37) steadying the ship after Canadian openers Aaron Johnson and Navneet Dhaliwal exited on 14 and six runs, respectively.

The Canadian bowlers then went to work, backed by first-rate fielding.

Ireland scored 31 runs at the expense of one wicket in its first six overs and then lost five more wickets for 31 runs in the next seven overs.

Canada dispatched Ireland's openers Andy Balbirnie and captain Paul Stirling for 17 and nine, respectively. A stingy Canadian bowling attack had the Irish at 50-4 after 10 overs.

The Irish hit just two boundaries in their first 15 overs, but there was a sting in their tail with 14-run totals in both the 16th and 17th overs with No. 6 batsman George Dockrell (30 not out) and No. 8 Mark Adair (34) keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

The comeback fell short, however, with Ireland completing its 20 overs at 125 for seven.

After a wobbly start to the Canadian batting innings, Movva, batting sixth, joined Kirton at 53 for four. The duo then combined for 75 runs before Kirton was caught on 49 runs with eight balls remaining in the game.

Kirton hit three fours and two sixes in his 35-ball innings, with 17 of his runs coming in an action-packed 18-run 16th over off Craig Young that took Canada past the 100-run mark.

Movva finished at 37, run out on the last ball trying for an extra run.

Kirton, who scored 51 in his opening innings against the U.S., was named man of the match.

Junaid Siddiqui slotted into the Canadian lineup in place of Nikhil Dutta, whose bowling was hit hard in the opening loss to the U.S. And the 39-year-old leg-spinner took a big wicket in Balbirnie with a catch off his own delivery, marking the moment with his trademark X celebration.

With Pakistan and No. 1 India awaiting, the Canadians have a tough road ahead. But the group dynamic changed suddenly when the 18th-ranked Americans scored one of the tournaments' biggest-ever upsets in toppling Pakistan on Thursday. Pakistan and the U.S. both finished with 159 runs, sending the game to a "Super Over" that saw the Americans score 17 runs to Pakistan's 13.

The pitch at the temporary Nassau County venue has already come under scrutiny at the tournament with Sri Lanka bowled out by South Africa for a career-low 77 Monday while Ireland managed just 96 runs against India on Wednesday.

The winning score in the first two matches there was 97 (India) and 80 (South Africa).

In a statement, the ICC acknowledged the pitches at the stadium "have not played as consistently as we would have all wanted."

Canada and Ireland had split their previous four T20 matches, with the Canadians winning by 10 runs last time out in a T20 World Cup qualifying tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Canada batted well in its opener against the U.S., putting up 194 for five in its innings in Grand Prairie, Texas. But the Canadians were unable to curb the U.S. batting attack.

Ireland, competing in its eighth T20 World Cup, lost by eight wickets to India in its opener.

The ICC says the tournament winner will receive at least US$2.45 million out of the record total purse of US$11.25 million. Teams that don't make it out of the preliminary round will earn US$225,000 with sides making an extra US$31,154 for each win, excluding the semifinals and final.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2024.