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Saad Bin Zafar will captain Canada on a tour of Sri Lanka next month as the Canadian men continue their quest to return to the ICC World Cup.

The Canadians will play four 50-over matches against a Sri Lanka development team on the 19-day tour that starts March 3.

The Sri Lanka trip is to prepare for the ICC 2023 World Cup Qualifier Playoff that starts March 24 in Namibia. Selectors have named a 16-man squad for the Sri Lanka tour from which 14 will be chosen to go on to Namibia.

The Namibia tournament serves as the penultimate stage of the qualification process for the 2023 World Cup. The top two teams will progress to the final qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June that will determine the last two participants in the 10-team World Cup in India in October.

The Canadian men last played at the World Cup in 2011, missing out in 2015 and ‘19. Canada has taken part in four of the previous 12 World Cups, never making it out of the first round.

The World Cup is the international championship of one-day cricket, with teams playing 50-over matches.

Canada worked hard to get to this stage, advancing to the Namibia event by finishing atop League A in the six-country World Cup Challenge League with a 13-1-0 record with one no-result.

Zafar entered the record books in November, 2021, when he became the first bowler to bowl four overs without conceding a run in an international T20 match as Canada beat Panama at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier in Antigua and Barbuda.

Bowlers are restricted to four overs in T20 cricket, meaning Zafar had a perfect day – with four maiden overs.

T20 is a swashbuckling shortened form of cricket, with teams each playing innings of 20 overs (with six balls per over). Batsmen are always on the attack, looking to score runs quickly.

Australia, for example, averaged 9.18 runs per over in defeating New Zealand to win the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai. The Aussies reached the victory target of 173 in the 19th over to win by eight wickets.

On the same day some 11,725 kilometres away, Zafar blanked Panama for four overs – delivering 24 balls without cost and taking two wickets in the process.

Zafar, who came to Canada from Pakistan at 17, has a background in business administration/finance and used to be a procurement analyst for Aviva Canada, an insurance company. But the 36-year-old from Brampton, Ont., quit, electing to work part-time in auto sales to make more time for his sport while helping pay the bills.

He was named man of the match in the final of the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament in 2018, helping a star-studded Vancouver Knights side to a seven-wicket victory over the West Indies B team in King City, Ont. Zafar took two wickets and scored 79 not out, slamming eight fours and three sixes in a 48-ball innings, in the championship game.

He was the Knights’ leading wicket-taker in the 2019 tournament in Brampton, where Vancouver finished runner-up to the Winnipeg Hawks. Zafar also earned man of the match honours in a playoff win over the Brampton Wolves that year.

Zafar made his Canadian debut in 2008 and has been a regular since 2015. Canada does not have test status so is restricted to T20 and one-day internationals (50 overs).