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Babar to faceoff Shaheen in GT20 Canada opener

TORONTO: The high-voltage action from the upcoming GT20 Canada will see Pakistan heavyweights Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi among others in action for the first time as North America’s marquee T20 league kicks off on July 25 with a clash between Vancouver Knights and Toronto Nationals.

Set up with a vision to popularise cricket and build a robust cricketing ecosystem in North America, the Canada Cricket league is the perfect platform for local and international talent to exhibit world-class performance in near perfect setting for a high-quality competition, says a press release.

GT20 Canada, which has established itself on the Canadian, North American and global cricketing calendar, continues to provide a massive platform to showcase the growth of the sport, especially in the backdrop of Canada’s historic debut at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and some memorable performances from the homegrown stars.

While Afridi will bolster Toronto Nationals along with West Indies all-rounder Romario Shepherd, Babar, in the company of compatriots Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Rizwan, brings a wealth of experience and class to Vancouver Knights.

The tournament will feature some of the superstars of world cricket along with the finest local talent.

The league phase of the tournament will run from July 25 to August 6, with each of the six franchises playing seven matches. The playoff stage will be held from August 9, with the final scheduled for August 11.

Gurmeet Singh Bhamrah, founder of GT20 Canada, emphasised on how the league has played an important role in developing Canadian and North American cricket. “The GT20 Canada continues to play a vital role in the development of the game in Canada. When top international stars regularly rub shoulders with the best domestic talent, it makes a lasting impact on the game’s growth in the region. And having top Pakistani cricketers in action will be a huge attraction, along with other cricketing greats, for the fans in Canada.”

Barring the tournament opener, each of the next ten league match-days will be double-headers. There will be a total of 21 league games across 13 days, including two non-match days in between. This will be followed by the four playoff games.

The double-header action will begin with Bangla Tigers Mississauga, featuring Bangladesh great Shakib Al Hasan, taking on 2023 champions Montreal Tigers, who will be marshalled by Chris Lynn, and then followed by some Aussie heavyweights as Brampton Wolves, featuring marquee star David Warner, will be up against Surrey Jaguars, who count Marcus Stoinis in their ranks, on the second day of the GT20 Canada.

The entire Canadian national squad will also be participating in this edition of the GT20 Canada, including captain Saad Bin Zafar, top run-scorer Nicholas Kirton and Aaron Johnson, who recently became the first player to score a half-century on the challenging New York pitch during the ICC T20 World Cup.

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