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Settled Canada ready to take control against Kenya

Having been thwarted by a combination of rain and some resilient Netherlands batting, the Canada team feels it is time to put the record straight and register its first win of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 campaign

Home team stung by draw in Rotterdam - now looks to take it out on Kenya

Having been thwarted by a combination of rain and some resilient Netherlands batting, the Canada team feels it is time to put the record straight and register its first win of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 campaign.

The four-day game against Kenya begins in King City on Friday and there is an air of expectancy around the 2007 finalist that it can overcome the men from east Africa.

Last month, Canada coach Pubudu Dassanayake took his men to Rotterdam and although it was a game he feels it should have won, there is encouragement to be taken from the fact that some of his key players are in good form.

Veteran left-hander Sunil Dhaniram hit a second-innings 144 in that match to make sure the Dutch were set an unlikely target. On a final day severely shortened by rain, the home team survived with just two wickets remaining thanks to a marathon 294-ball innings by Daan van Bunge, who finished unbeaten on 98.

Left-arm swing bowler Umar Bhatti also performed well in Rotterdam while there were wickets, too, for Sandeep Jyoti and Khurram Chohan.

"It was disappointing not to come away with full points from that game and certainly there were areas we could have done better but what it did was give us confidence," said Dassanayake.

"We now go into the Kenya game knowing we can win and we will be going all out to do just that. Last year the team was a bit unsettled but now there is a good feeling of stability about us. There are still areas for improvement but we are definitely heading in the right direction," he said.

Canada stalwarts John Davison, Geoff Barnett and Ian Billcliff are not available which makes way for three members of the under-19 team that won the Americas Championship. Under-19 captain Rustam Bhatti has been picked in the squad as the understudy wicketkeeper in a side captained by Ashish Bagai but there may be a starting place for the player of that under-19 series, opening batsman Hiral Patel, and also the exciting prospect 15-year-old Nitesh Kumar.

Dassanayake describes Kumar as "one of the best batsmen I have ever seen at that age" and so expect the teenager from Toronto to make his senior debut batting at six or seven.

The experience of those youngsters being involved at senior level will also be good preparation for the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier which takes place in Ontario next month.

Meanwhile, the Kenya squad is full of familiar faces with Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, Thomas Odoyo and Hiren Varaiya all still available. Nineteen-year-old Seren Waters will more than likely open the batting and there is also a recall for right-arm seamer Alfred Luseno but there is no place for wicketkeeper-batsman Kennedy Otieno.

Maurice Ouma will lead the team and, almost certainly will take the gloves as well in the absence of Otieno.

Canada (squad): Ashish Bagai (captain), Umar Bhatti, Qaiser Ali, Rustam Bhatti, Rizwan Cheema, Khurram Chohan, Sunil Dhaniram, Jimmy Hansara, Sandeep Jyoti, Shaheed Keshvani, Nitesh Kumar, Hiral Patel, Abdool Samad, Henry Osinde, Zameer Zahir.

Kenya (squad): Maurice Ouma (captain), Jimmy Kamande, Alex Obanda, Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Lameck Onyango, Peter Ongondo, Hiren Varaiya, Rakep Patel, Elijah Otieno, Seren Waters, David Obuya, Alfred Luseno.

Umpires: Norman Malcolm and Karran Bayney

Match referee: David Jukes

The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception five years ago and now the ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.

Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event then evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.

This year's format will include seven teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Scotland and Zimbabwe XI) while a new competition, the ICC Intercontinental Shield will involve four teams below that, namely Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08.

For more information go to: www.icc-cricket.com

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