Hiral Patel, 19, gave Canadian cricket one of its finest hours, literally. Unfortunately, against the three-time defending World Cup champions from Down Under, it was not nearly enough.
For 10 overs, it looked like the Canadians would make the most of their final World Cup match, scoring 77, including 33 in their first three overs. But Australia had far too much class and ended up cruising to an easy seven-wicket win.
Opening the batting with John Davison, Patel, one of the graduates of Canada’s under-19 program, made 54 off 45 balls in his 58-minute spell. The five fours and three sixes he hit were a sign the Canadians at least started with a go-for-broke attitude after winning the toss and electing to bat in Wednesday’s match in Bengaluru, India.
And it continued for a while. Zubin Surkari (34) and captain Ashish Bagai (39) had a 68-run partnership with Canada standing at 150 for two at one point. But then the Australian bowling attack found its line and stride.
Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, who were roughed up with the new ball, got into a groove as the ball got older, with Lee ending up with four wickets and Tait taking two. And while Karl Whatham (18) and Harvir Baidwan (17) made some noise towards the end of the innings, Canada was all out for 211 in 45.4 overs.
So, with a very reachable target, it was batting-practice time for openers Brad Haddin and Shane Watson. But for 20 overs, Canada’s bowling kept them in check for 89, led by Baidwan and Henry Osinde. However, they were not helped by their fielders as Rizwan Cheema, who had a tough day all around, missed a couple of catches and Nitish Kumar seemed to whiff at another shot that ended up going for four.
Then Haddin and Watson turned it up. Watson cranked sixes of 99 and 104 metres, two of the three longest in the tournament. Haddin finished with 88 while Watson lasted a touch longer and made 94. After captain Ricky Ponting made seven and ended a day where he looked rather moody, Michael Clarke and Cameron White did the cleanup work to end the match in just under 35 overs.
“The first 70 balls, I was barely scratching,” Watson said. “The Canadians bowled nice and tightly so it was nice to get a few towards the end.”
Osinde and Baidwan each ended up taking a wicket. Baidwan ended the World Cup with a respectable 13 wickets and currently sits second among the leaders in that category.
For Australia, unbeaten now in its past 34 World Cup outings dating back to 1999, the tournament gets serious with a game against Pakistan on Sunday which will determine its quarter-final opponent.
“We haven’t been fully tested as yet in the tournament,” Ponting said. “We’ve had some good training and preparation here and we’ll see where we stand when we face a good team like Pakistan.”