The second edition of the Global T20 Canada League came to an end on August 11 as previous year's winners Vancouver Knights went down against Rayad Emrit's Winnipeg Hawks in an enthralling encounter, whose result had to be decided by a super-over. Chris Gayle's Vancouver Knights had earlier finished in second position during the league stages of the competition.
The second edition of the league had some big attractions like Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Brendon McCullum. The league allowed Canadian players to gather experience and make a name for themselves. Last year, Canada's Saad Bin Zafar grabbed the spotlight as he played a match-winning knock in the finals. The southpaw scored an unbeaten 79 to guide the Vancouver Knights to a title victory.
In this year of the league, Saad scalped 8 wickets. In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, the all-rounder provides an insight on this season, Cricket Canada and his experience of playing in the league.
When asked about his performance, Saad said, "Overall I am happy with my bowling performance in the tournament considering that the ground was relatively small and the wickets were generally flat with 200 being the par score."
The tournament was played at the CAA Centre in Brampton where the bowlers were dispatched to all parts of the park.
The 32-year-old praised Cricket Canada and the organizers for their efforts to increase love for the game in Canada. Saad said,
"I think season 2 was organized in a better manner. The decision of changing the venue from King City to Brampton was wonderful as we saw a lot more crowd coming in to watch the games, it's always delightful to watch the crowd coming in numbers."
Saad's best performance in the tournament came against Colin Munro and Darren Sammy led Brampton Wolves, the left-arm spinner picked up 4 wickets for 22 runs in his four-over spell. He dismissed two of the most dangerous batsmen of the Wolves, Colin Munro and Shahid Afridi. Saad reckons that dismissing Afridi on the first ball was his most enjoyable wicket of the tournament.
After his splendid performance in the final last year, Saad was called up by the Patriots for the play-offs of the Carribean Premier League (CPL).
"My CPL experience was amazing. Even though I was only there for 2 games and I didn’t get a chance to play yet being around some of the best players of the world and working closely with them was a great learning experience for me," he said.
He revealed his dream of wanting to be picked in different T20 leagues around the world. Saad said,
"I am targeting to play one of the 3 big leagues, I would love to play in the Indian Premier League(IPL), Big Bash League(BBL) or the Pakistan Super League (PSL). If I am able to get into one of them, I would get to learn a lot and it would be a dream come true moment for me."
While talking about his preparation leading up to the league, he talked about different dimensions of training and preparing.
"I would hit the nets for 2-3 hours five times a week so I could practice my skills, the other part is being physically fit so I would spend time in the gym and do outdoor running. For me the mental aspect of the game is important. Therefore I would plan different strategies for different scenarios that I may encounter in the game."
The Vancouver Knights all-rounder talked about his team's defeat in the finals. The Vancouver Knights bowled first and restricted the Winnipeg Hawks to 192 in their allotted 20 overs. Hawks' opener Shaiman Anwar attacked Saad as he hit him for 26 runs in his two overs. The Knights lost quick wickets but managed to score 192 before the Hawks defeated them in the super over.
"We did well to restrict them to 192, at one stage Hawks were well poised to score around 215-220. We saw that in the latter part of the Hawks innings the wicket started to slow down and it harder to score. During our batting we lost 4 early wickets within 7 overs, two of them were on the short-pitched ball that stayed really low, a problem that you face with drop-in pitches.
"We recovered decently from the 7th to the 13th over but after the 13th over we could not accelerate the way we wanted to. It was tough to score boundaries. Russell came to the wicket in the 17th over and his abilities and reputation of being the best hitter in world cricket helped him brought the game down to 3 on 3 balls, unfortunately, he couldn't find another boundary and the game went into the super over but credit goes to the players," Saad said.
Zafar concluded by talking about Cricket in Canada and said,
"We have had our ups and downs and hardships due to cricket being a minor sport in Canada and because of the lack of funds and proper infrastructure, but I believe we're going in the right direction with cricket popularity growing and GT20 has also played a major role in drawing the government's attention.
Recently, the mayor of Brampton announced to build a cricket stadium in Brampton so things are heading in the right direction and we hope for a bright future of cricket in Canada".
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