Canada, Zimbabwe lock horns in 'Battle of Minnows'

Beaten comprehensively in their respective opening encounters, Elton Chigumbura's determined Zimbabweans will take on Canada in the cricket World Cup's 'Battle of the Minnows' in Nagpur on Monday.

Updated: February 27, 2011 14:24 IST
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Nagpur: Beaten comprehensively in their respective opening encounters, Elton Chigumbura's determined Zimbabweans will take on Canada in the cricket World Cup's 'Battle of the Minnows' in Nagpur on Monday.

While Zimbabwe bowlers managed to restrict Australia to 262 in their first match, their batsmen couldn't soak in the pressure and were all-out for 171.

Canada, on the other hand, were no match for former world champions Sri Lanka as they were walloped by 210 runs in the newly built Hambantota stadium.

Monday's Group A match will be the best chance for both teams to try and force a victory which will give them requisite confidence to fight in the month-long tournament.

With the format being very difficult for the minnows, a victory will certainly keep these teams interested in showing stomach for fight.

On paper, Zimbabweans are a superior side with players who have a lot of ODI cricket against the big teams against their names.

However, winning is a habit and certainly something that hasn't been the strength of the African nation which has seen a lot of political turmoil in the last few years.

Yet the likes of Chigumbura, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Ray Price will hope to showcase their fighting ability on the biggest stage.

Since it will be a day match, the bowlers may expect a bit of help early in the morning but the Jamtha strip is an absolute belter where batsmen will make merry once they set their eye in.

Charles Coventry, Taylor and Taibu are the three batsmen on whom Zimbabwe's hopes of a big total will rest.

A big innings would be expected from Coventry who once held the world record for the highest individual score in ODIs (194 not out) before Sachin Tendulkar surpassed him.

The Zimbabwean bowling is largely dependent on their spin trio of left-armer Ray Price, offie Prosper Utseya and leg-break bowler Graeme Cremer.

The Jamtha strip slows down as the day progresses and it might just help the slower bowlers.

Canada will be hoping that they put up a decent show which will have the big bosses of International Cricket Council sit up and take notice.

With the number of teams for the 2015 World Cup being reduced to 10, it will be a last chance for the Canadians to showcase their skills at the world stage.

The cavalier John Davison, who caught everyone's imagination with a blazing century in the 2003 edition, would like to make an impression.

So would the likes of skipper Ashish Bagai, Rizwan Cheema, Harvir Baidwan, Balaji Rao -- all of whom have some Indian connection.

At 40, Davison, is the oldest player in this World Cup.

Baidwan, who grabbed a couple of wickets against Sri Lanka in the last match feels that a good performance may just open the doors for him to play in Ranji Trophy (if he gets a chance he will apply for dual citizenship) and Indian Premier League.

"I have played first-class cricket in Sri Lanka with the likes of Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perrera. This is my big chance to prove my worth. Whether it's Canada or India, this is World Cup and it's a dream come true for me," said Baidwan, shifted to Canada some eight years back.

Baidwan is one of the centrally contracted players of Cricket Canada which gives him a chance to concentrate fully on his game.

Then there is leg-break bowler WD Balaji Rao who was once considered as an India prospect and even played in the Challengers Trophy. Balaji, a regular for Tamil Nadu during early 2000, will also be gearing up to give a good account of himself.

An insurance officer by profession, a good performance will definitely reduce Balaji's pain of not being able to represent India although he was considered a serious prospect at one point of time.

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