Co-hosts USA beat Canada in T20 World Cup opener


Photo: GETTY IMAGES, USA batter Aaron Jones hit 10 sixes in a stunning onslaught

By Timothy AbrahamBBC Sport Journalist at Grand Prairie Stadium, Dallas, June 2: 

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024, Group A, Dallas

Canada 194-5 (20 overs): Dhaliwal 61 (44), Kirton 51 (31)

USA 197-3 (17.4 overs): Jones 94* (40), Gous 65 (46)

USA won by seven wickets

Aaron Jones clubbed a brutal unbeaten 94 as T20 World Cup co-hosts USA beat Canada by seven wickets in a pulsating and colourful tournament opener in Texas.

The USA came into the match on the back of a 2-1 series win over Bangladesh and thrashed the Canadians 4-0 when the sides last met in April.

This match was in the balance before Jones - born in Queens, New York to Barbadian parents – swung it the way of the home side with a stellar knock off 40 balls as they chased down Canada’s 194-5.

Jones targeted the short boundaries on this former baseball ground, previously home to the Texas Air Hogs, launching a majestic 10 sixes into the night sky and whipping the jubilant fans into a frenzy.

With the US requiring 36 off 35 balls Jones sliced the ball to short third, but Nikhil Dutta clumsily spilled a simple catch.

It proved decisive as the 29-year-old pummelled the US to victory with 14 balls to spare after support from Andries Gous, who hit 65 off 46 balls.

Aaron Johnson (23) had earlier set the tone for Canada’s total when he struck the first ball of the game for four, as he and Navneet Dhaliwal (61) got them off to a flying start.

Nicholas Kirton's 51 off 31 balls and some late hitting from wicketkeeper Shreyas Movva, who finished unbeaten on 32, boosted the total but it ended up not quite enough.

Texas savours the joy of six

There was historical significance in designating this fixture as the tournament's opening game - the USA played Canada in the first international cricket match in 1844.

That match in New York was a resolutely Anglocentric affair with nearly all the players involved British.

Things were very different for this meeting, though, with a strong South Asian and Caribbean flavour to both sides reflecting the respective diasporas in the two North American countries.

Most of the 5,000-plus crowd were also from that demographic with India and Pakistan shirts aplenty.

Yet there were also pockets of Americans, with no obvious connection to the game, drawn through the gates of this neat little stadium out of curiosity or as relatively recent converts to the game.

You could even buy T-shirts with the image of former US president Abraham Lincoln padded up waiting to bat on them.

'Este Alerta! Cuidado con las pelotas que salen del terreno de juego' (Be alert! Watch for balls leaving the field of play) said one sign in Spanish at the ground.

It was wise advice as Jones peppered the boundary with a mouthwatering exhibition of powerful strokeplay – the pick a towering 99-metre heave that flew out of the ground.

USA were actually behind the rate at the halfway point of their innings on 81-2, with Canada's total looking above par on the first T20 international at this ground.

The highest chase in the inaugural Major League Cricket season at the Grand Prairie Stadium last year was 158. The US had never chased more than 169 in a T20 international.

However, the destructive Jones seized the moment as he played the kind of carefree innings that will give the USA hope of upsetting some of the full ICC members later in the tournament.

The USA will face Pakistan on Thursday, while Canada will take on Ireland on Friday.

'We play aggressive cricket' - reaction

Player of the match, USA batter Aaron Jones: "It was probably my best innings in a US shirt. It's a big rivalry. I'm happy to get my team over the line.

"We played aggressive cricket and came out on top."

Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar: "I think 194 was a great total, I was quite confident at that time.

"But the US partnership batted exceptionally well and our bowlers had no answer for them."

USA captain Monank Patel: "We talked about playing fearless cricket, we played really well and completely took Canada out of it.

"We want to continue like this with fearless cricket, we don’t want to change anything, even if it is India or Pakistan."

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