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Former Australian skipper Steve Smith, looking to revive his career after being mired in a ball-tampering scandal, scored 61 runs on Thursday as the Toronto Nationals defeated the Vancouver Knights by six wickets in the opener of the Global T20 Canada cricket tournament.

Toronto needed 25 runs to win from the final two overs and four from the last over. New Zealand’s Anton Devcich, who finished out the innings with captain Darren Sammy, led the Nationals with 92.

Sammy, who had 22, won the game with a six with four balls remaining, pushing the Toronto score to 231 for four. Three sixes in the penultimate over helped the Toronto cause.

Smith was stumped by Chadwick Walton after missing a Fawad Ahmed delivery. Smith, who was almost caught on 27, hit one six and eight fours in compiling his 12th T20 half-century.

Much of the pretournament attention has been on Smith, a star batsman who was disgraced in March for cheating in a test match in South Africa. David Warner, the former Aussie vice-captain also embroiled in the scandal, is at the Canadian event as a member of the Winnipeg Hawks.

Both men have been banned for a year by Cricket Australia, although they are allowed to play abroad. That ruling did not help them in the high-profile Indian Premier League, which cancelled their lucrative contracts.

A Cricket Australia investigator found that Warner instructed Cameron Bancroft how to carry out the tampering with a piece of sandpaper during a break in play on the third day of the third cricket test against South Africa. Bancroft was banned for nine months.

Smith, who as captain took responsibility for the cheating, was seen to have let both cricket and Australia down in a dramatic fall from grace.

Thursday’s game was played in the tight — at-least cricket-wise — confines of the Maple Leaf Cricket Club just north of Toronto. The bleachers were largely empty when the first ball was bowled at 4 p.m. local time but the crowd grew somewhat.

Ball flew out of the ground, clearing trees and VIP tents under the late-afternoon sunshine after Sammy, the Toronto captain, won the toss and elected to put Vancouver into bat.

West Indies opener Evin Lewis kept the Vancouver scoreboard ticking as the Knights compiled 227 runs for four wickets in their 20 overs.

Lewis exited after an entertaining 96, four short of his fourth T20 century, when he skied a shot to Devcich in the 19th over. He hit 10 sixes and five fours off 55 balls.

Andre Russell joined him, battering United Arab Emirates bowler Mohammad Naveed for four sixes and a four in the 17th over. The West Indies batsman finished at 54 not out.

Smith was involved in the first out of the match, making the catch to dispatch West Indies star Chris Gayle after a 17-run, 12-ball innings that included two fours and one six.

Toronto lost opener Nazakat Khan (six) in the first over, bringing in Smith. The Aussie showed off an elegant stroke more often than not although there were also some rusty moments in his 41-ball innings.

The tournament is a partnership between Cricket Canada and the Mercuri Group, an India-based media and talent-management company that is the driving force behind the event.

For Cricket Canada, it’s a chance to give national team players some high-level competition while earning revenue from its 25-year leasing agreement with Mercuri, which has also undertaken to help develop Canadian talent.

For Mercuri, it’s chance to create a potentially valuable window in the crowded cricket calendar with broadcast partners around the globe.

Organizers recruited some marquee names to captain the squads in West Indies’ Sammy (Toronto), Gayle (Vancouver) and Dwayne Bravo (Winnipeg), Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga (Montreal) and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi (Edmonton). A Cricket West Indies B side fills out the six-team field.

The five Canadian teams each have a salary budget of US$550,000 with individual pay ranging from $100,000 to $3,000 depending on where the player was drafted. Cricket West Indies is taking care of its own squad.

Some 31 Canadians, including 10 young local players who were added after the original draft to fill the rosters, are at the tournament.

The Toronto lineup included Canadian captain Nitish Kumar and Nikhil Dutta. Vancouver’s roster includes Canadians Saad Bin Zafar and Jeremy Gordon.

Music played during breaks in the action, ranging from the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive to Los del Rio’s Macarena. Workers spent most of the Vancouver innings trying to hang an advertising banner for a local bank, with limited success.

The uniforms were also spotty. Devcich, a late addition to the Toronto side, had no name or number on his jersey. Perhaps his number was used by Gayle, who wore No. 333. It also took a while for the electronic scoreboard to work.

There was a relaxed atmosphere prior to the game with the Vancouver team playing pickup soccer and the Toronto side opting for soccer-volleyball.

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