Canada brimming with confidence at Cricket World Cup
Upcoming games with powers Australia and New Zealand
Fresh off its first win of the Cricket World Cup and second in tournament history, Canada is hoping to retain that winning feeling in its final group-stage matches against New Zealand and three-time defending champions Australia on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively.
Finishing the tournament against two talent-rich squads from Down Under is a daunting task, to say the least. But the Canadians believe they are more than up to the challenge.
Brimming with confidence, the team is looking forward to showcasing its burgeoning talent against the world's best.
"It's always good to have a win under the belt before going into games, [especially] against New Zealand and Australia," said Jimmy Hansra, who keyed Canada's attack with 70 on 99 balls in Monday's five-wicket win over Kenya.
"It's important for us to gain exposure like this. The more games we play against these big teams, the more confidence everybody gets and I think you can see through our results [we've] been improving with every game in this tournament and, hopefully, we can continue that.
"We've been bowling better than any team out there at the moment. So if we can keep that up and a few of our batsmen can step up, anything is possible.
"We have belief in the team now, which is really good to see. It's just going to be that much more exciting for us to go out there and do our best."
New Zealand ranks near the top of Group A with six points in four matches and Australia has five points through three matches, while Canada has earned two points in its four matches.
Even with spirits running high, the Canadians are well aware that a win over either powerhouse would be a monumental upset — and likely take nothing short of a miracle. Regardless, the team's approach has it believing it could pull off the unthinkable.
"Our preparation for every match, regardless of how we've performed has been the same," said Rathan Moorthy, Canada's director of technical services. "We've looked at the opponents, we've tried to assess a game plan that's based on our strengths and come up with things our guys are very comfortable executing.
"Obviously, we wanted to have some better performances and we understand that, going into these final two games, it's still going to be a very difficult challenge. But game by game, we've made improvements.
"We'll need to restrict them. Our bowlers have been doing a good job of keeping us in every game and, [in] the game against Kenya, gave our batsmen an opportunity to chase down a decent-sized total, so we'll be looking for more of the same."
'We can put any team under pressure'
Along with executing the game plan, it will be important for Canada to ensure it brings maximum effort from start to finish, something it failed to do in a 46-run loss to Pakistan, when a solid bowling innings went for naught because of a poor display from the batsmen.
"The key is just sticking together and fighting as a team until the 100th over," Hansra said. "On this kind of stage, you really have to play the 100 overs to win the game.
"You can't slack off or you can't be comfortable just with one innings, whether it's bowling or batting. We just have to focus on [our] specific plan ... let's see a few more batsmen step up and put some runs on the board and. obviously. with our bowling, we can put any team under pressure."
Qualifying for the quarter-finals is a virtual impossibility for Canada as it would not only need to defeat New Zealand and Australia — two of the strongest teams in the tournament — but also would require some help from other clubs along the way.
But should the Canadians compete at a high level and lose, they can, at the very least, walk away with heads held high.
"[If] we treat them like we played against Pakistan, it'll be nice to get an upset in one of these two games and then I'd consider this a really good tournament," Hansra said. "Even otherwise, if [we] just put up a big fight and play our proper brand of cricket — like we're trying to promote and try to improve every game, individually — I think that'll be a good moral victory for us Canadians."