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    Drummond looks ahead to Canada challenge in I Cup opener

    The ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10, kicks off on Thursday when Scotland hosts Canada at Citylets Mannofield, Aberdeen
    The International Cricket Council's first-class tournament, the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10, kicks off on Thursday when Scotland hosts Canada at Citylets Mannofield, Aberdeen in a repeat of the 2004 final which the former won by an innings and 84 runs in Sharjah.

    In that inaugural final, Scotland opener Gavin Hamilton, who will not play in this year's Intercontinental Cup, had scored a brilliant 115 in a low-scoring match in which Canada could manage only 110 and 93 in reply to Scotland's 287-8 declared.

    The two sides then met for the second and, until now, only other previous time in the four-day format at Maple-Leaf North East Ground, King City where Scotland again defeated Canada by an innings and 165 runs in the 2007-08 event. Douglas Lockhart stroked a classy 151 that propelled Scotland to 374, setting the stage for Dewald Nel (7-70) and Ross Lyons (7-42) to bowl out the Canadians for 79 and 130.

    However, Canada secured an important and satisfying victory over Scotland earlier this April in an ODI in Benoni when it won its crucial ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier game by 148 runs. While Canada went on to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in the Asian subcontinent by finishing second in the 12-team contest, Scotland finished sixth, missing out on a place at the ICC's flagship event, but retaining its ODI status until 2013 and earning automatic qualification for the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10.

    Scotland has made eight changes to the side that participated in the ICC World Twenty20 in England last month. Hamilton will only be available this year for Scotland's ODIs and wicketkeeper Colin Smith has retired at the age of 36 after playing 27 ODIs, eight T20Is and 10 first-class matches.

    Others to miss the Aberdeen action are Kyle Coetzer, Dewald Nel, Navdeep Poonia, Glenn Rogers, Craig Wright and John Blain. They have been replaced in the 12-man squad by wicketkeeper Simon Smith, left-handed batsman Qasim Sheikh, wrist-spinner Moneeb Iqbal and an uncapped 19-year-old all-rounder Ewan Chalmers.

    Scotland head coach Peter Steindl, reflecting on his new-look side, said: "With these selections, we are starting to look ahead over the next four years and, broadly speaking, we are seeking to give the younger generation as much experience as we can.

    "We believe that some cricketers are more suited to the longer form of the game, while some flourish in the one-day variety. With more and more top-quality youngsters pushing for places in the national squads, those squads may show more differences as time goes on. It's up to the players to make their case on the field."

    Fast bowler Gordon Drummond, who will be Scotland's third captain this year after Ryan Watson and Gavin Hamilton, said: "This is an exciting time for Scottish cricket and I am delighted to have been asked to take responsibility for the ICC Intercontinental Cup squad, where we need players who are in for the long haul.

    "The matches against Canada and Ireland will certainly be a test to be savoured. The players, I'm sure, will rise to the occasion."

    Drummond said his side was ready to put behind the disappointments of this year and move on. "The ICC Intercontinental Cup is a fresh tournament with a new format but some of our players have been playing for Scotland Lions and switching from Twenty20 mode to four-day cricket mode should not be a problem for them.

    "We don't need to do anything different except stick to basics and show discipline in our performance. We have a talented side and I think we should be able to do that.

    "We are in a rebuilding phase and the absence of some key players, including Gavin (Hamilton), Kyle (Coetzer), Colin (Smith) and Dewald (Nel) will provide a good opportunity to the youngster to step in, take the responsibility and show their mettle."

    Drummond, who has played two first-class matches, said his side would be approaching the tournament with a positive approach. "We have not set any long term goals for ourselves. We will take every match as it comes and we would like to win as many matches as possible," he said.

    "I was part of the side that defeated Canada in 2007 and though it was slightly under-strength, we know how they play in the four-day format and what we need to do against them to collect maximum points.

    "We want to make a positive and winning start to the tournament. This match will be special for me as well as it will be my first match as captain which is a huge honour. To take over from someone like Gavin Hamilton is an honour and I'll try to carry on all his good work," said Drummond.

    Canada has made six changes to the side that reached the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in South Africa in April. Zameer Zahir, Trevin Bastiampillai, Shaheeb Keshvani, Abdool Samad and Ashif Mulla have replaced Balaji Dorakanti, Eion Katchay, Ian Billcliff, John Davison and Arvindan Kandappah while Umar Bhatti will lead the side in the absence of Ashish Bagai who is not available due to work commitments.

    Canada has played 17 ICC Intercontinental Cup matches out of which it has won five, lost nine and drawn three. Besides being the losing finalist to Scotland in the inaugural event in 2004, it also reached the final of the 2006 tournament where it lost to Ireland by an innings and 115 runs at the Grace Road, Leicester.

    The 2007-08 ICC Intercontinental Cup was not a event to remember for Canada as it lost five of the seven matches. Its only victory came against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when it won by an innings and 22 runs while it losses were against the Netherlands (45 runs), Scotland (by an innings and 165 runs), Kenya (nine wickets), Namibia (eight wickets) and Bermuda (106 runs).

    The four-day match will be umpired by Brian Jerling and Enamul Hoque-Moni from the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires.

    Squads (to be selected from):

    Scotland: Gordon Drummond (captain), Ryan Watson, Fraser Watts, Jan Stander, Neil McCallum, Simon Smith, Qasim Sheikh, Moneeb Iqbal, Majid Haq, Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Ewan Chalmers.

    Canada: Umar Bhatti (captain), Zameer Zahir, Havir Baidwan, Geoff Barnett, Trevin Bastiampillai, Sandeep Jvoti, Sunil Dhaniram, Shaheeb Keshvani, Khurram Chauhan, Ashif Mulla, Henry Osinde, Qaiser Ali, Rizwan Cheema, Abdool Samad.

    Umpires: Brian Jerling and Enamul Hoque-Moni

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