Patel and fellow - travelers boost cricket in Canada

Thu, Jan 21, 2010 3:04 PM

Patel and fellow  - travelers boost cricket in Canada
Canada's batting all-rounder Hiral Patel is one of a growing number of South Asian-born players who are helping to propel the rapid growth of cricket in Canada.

The majority of players in Canada's squad at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup are originally from South Asia, mostly India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - making the team a real international mix.

The 18-year old Patel, whose family emigrated to Canada from Ahmedabad in India five years ago, believes cricket in Canada wouldn't have experienced the growth and success it has without the influx of cricketing imports.

"A lot of immigrants are coming from South Asia, and from the Carribean and England as well," he said. "If you ask anybody, ten years ago nobody here knew what cricket was - now I think everybody knows what cricket is. So it's good for the sport.

"Canada still is a small country cricket-wise, but it's growing - it's one of the fastest growing sports in Canada."

The move has also been good for his own game and for his prospects as a cricketer, Patel said. "Definitely it has given me a lot of opportunities as a cricketer. I'm playing here now and hoping to make the senior team soon."

Patel has had good success on the U19 stage in recent years. He was Man of the Series in the Americas Under-19 Championship last year, and was a star performer with the ball at the U19 CWC Global Qualifier in Canada. He was the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 17, including match figures of five for 20 against Uganda.

He also caught the attention of Canada's senior international selectors and was drafted into the men's team for two ODIs against Kenya.

"I didn't do that well but it was a good experience - I got to know what international cricket is all about. I'm looking forward to the next chance and I'll do my best if I get the opportunity."

An aggressive, hard-hitting opener who models his game on India's star batsman Virender Sehwag, Patel is a big fan of the power play. "Basically when I go into bat I try to utilise the power play as much as I can, and just play the ball on its merits and not try to force anything - just keep it simple."

Simplicity is also the key to his left-arm orthodox bowling. "I just try to keep it simple. I try to contain runs, bowl to my bowling plan, don't force anything and just play basic cricket."

Patel has made an impression at this tournament, scoring a stand-out innings of 69 in his side's loss to Sri Lanka. "For me it was a good experience, facing a good bowling attack. I feel that I could have got more runs, and in bowling I could have done a little bit better, but I'm pretty happy with my performance."

Along with his team mates he's now focusing on the Plate Championship and believes they have a good chance of winning it. "I know that we can do it - we are all focused and aiming for that now"

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