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Current champions Afghanistan prepare to defend title

The third match of the new season of the ICC Intercontinental Cup will be played on Tuesday when current champions Afghanistan take on hosts Canada in Toronto

Current champions Afghanistan prepare to defend title - Cricket News
Hamid Hassan
The third match of the new season of the ICC Intercontinental Cup will be played on Tuesday when current champions Afghanistan take on hosts Canada in Toronto.

Nawroz Mangol's men won the final of the competition last year after beating Scotland and the side will be hoping for a strong performance away from home to begin the competition on the right foot and walk away with the full quota of points on offer.

Having never won the tournament, Canada will want to make sure it starts positively against the current champions and begin this year's season with a victory on home soil.

Fast bowler Hamid, who was the leading wicket-taker in the tournament last time out with 43 scalps, is confident ahead of the team's first four-day fixture of the season.

"We've trained in Sri Lanka ahead of this first match, playing two or three-day games to make sure we're in the right frame and form ahead of this first match against Canada in Toronto.

"We're feeling great and I'm personally feeling happy with my fitness, especially since I was ill earlier in the season so our trip to Sri Lanka was my first time back in full training and I felt really good," said Hamid.

"We've played some domestic three-day games in Pakistan and also in Sri Lanka ahead of this first fixture and we've been very focused so I hope we take what we've learnt with us to Canada for our first match of this competition.

"When we first started playing four-day cricket it took us time to embrace it but now we enjoy it a lot, especially in the last tournament, so hopefully we can enjoy it again this time.

"I've never been Canada but we've been told the weather will be good and hopefully the wickets will seam around so hopefully I'm able to do something with the ball," concluded Hamid.

Meanwhile, Canada's side features some young blood, joining the old guard, with new captain Jimmy Hansra at the helm, who has taken over from fellow squad member Ashish Bagai, who recently relinquished the captaincy that he had held for two years.

The team features a number of young players, including Hiral Patel, while newly appointed skipper Hansra is confident his side can do well.

"We're a fairly young team and we're going to be taking what we learnt at the 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup and try to translate that into the four-day competition we're about to start playing.

"It's good that we've got a three year window for this tournament and it's good for us to start against the current champions, Afghanistan," said Hansra.

"It's nice to have a stronger team upfront as it will help us know where we stand and it should help us to prepare for the tournament and the youngsters are ready to go and we're ready to put up a good show.

"Hiral Patel and Ruvindu Gunasekera are two good youngsters coming in from our domestic cricket, who also featured at the World Cup, and we've good bowlers who will need to help us for this tournament.

"Afghanistan is an experienced side whereas we're young and we're trying to bring the passion for Canada and cricket together for this tournament but I feel with a three-year window to play these fixtures we will continue to improve no matter what happens with this first game," added Hansra.

CANADA (squad): Jimmy Hansra (captain), Harvir Baidwan, Khurram Chohan, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Zahid Hussain, Usman Limbada, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Junaid Siddiqui, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq

AFGHANISTAN (squad): Nawroz Mangal (captain), Amir Hamza Hotak, Asghar Stanikzai, Dollat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Khan Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammed Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shabir Noori, Shapoor Zadran,

Umpires: Chris Gaffaney and Gregory Braithwaite both of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires

Match referee: Adrian Griffiths

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