Brampton cricket captain prepares for next step on journey to ICC World Cup


Published February 13, 2023 at 8:35 am

Canada cricket captain and Brampton's Saad Bin Zafar is seen in this undated handout photo received February 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Cricket Canada

Brampton’s Saad Bin Zafar will captain Canada on a tour of Sri Lanka next month as the Canadian men’s cricket team continues their quest to return to the ICC World Cup.

The 36-year-old from Brampton traded in a job at an insurance company to work part-time in auto sales to make more time for his sport. Now, the Canadian team will play four 50-over matches over 19 days against a Sri Lanka development team starting on March 3 with Brampon’s Zafar leading the squad.

The Sri Lanka trip is to prepare for the ICC 2023 World Cup Qualifier Playoff that starts March 24 in Namibia. Selectors have named a 16-man squad for the Sri Lanka tour from which 14 will be chosen to go on to Namibia.

The Namibia tournament serves as the penultimate stage of the qualification process for the 2023 World Cup. The top two teams will progress to the final qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June that will determine the last two participants in the 10-team World Cup in India in October.

The Canadian men last played at the World Cup in 2011, missing out in 2015 and ’19. Canada has taken part in four of the previous 12 World Cups, never making it out of the first round.

The World Cup is the international championship of one-day cricket, with teams playing 50-over matches.

Canada worked hard to get to this stage, advancing to the Namibia event by finishing atop League A in the six-country World Cup Challenge League with a 13-1-0 record with one no-result.

Zafar came to Canada from Pakistan at 17 and entered the record books in November 2021 when he became the first bowler to bowl four overs without conceding a run in an international T20 match as Canada beat Panama at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier in Antigua and Barbuda.

Bowlers are restricted to four overs in T20 cricket, meaning Zafar had a perfect day — with four maiden overs.

T20 is a swashbuckling shortened form of cricket, with teams each playing innings of 20 overs (with six balls per over). Batsmen are always on the attack, looking to score runs quickly.

Australia, for example, averaged 9.18 runs per over in defeating New Zealand to win the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai. The Aussies reached the victory target of 173 in the 19th over to win by eight wickets.

On the same day some 11,725 kilometres away, Zafar blanked Panama for four overs — delivering 24 balls without cost and taking two wickets in the process.

Zafar was named man of the match in the final of the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament in 2018, helping a star-studded Vancouver Knights side to a seven-wicket victory over the West Indies B team in King City. Zafar took two wickets and scored 79 not out, slamming eight fours and three sixes in a 48-ball innings, in the championship game.

He was the Knights’ leading wicket-taker in the 2019 tournament in Brampton, where Vancouver finished runner-up to the Winnipeg Hawks. Zafar also earned man of the match honours in a playoff win over the Brampton Wolves that year.

Zafar made his Canadian debut in 2008 and has been a regular since 2015. Canada does not have test status so is restricted to T20 and one-day internationals (50 overs).

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