T20 World Cup: Aaron Jones fires USA to thrilling opening victory over Canada

Batsman smashes 10 sixes during his unbeaten 94 to lead the co-hosts to a seven-wicket win in Texas

Aaron Jones kisses his bat in celebration after hitting the winning runs for USA in the T20 World Cup match against Canada. AP
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USA batsman Aaron Jones says he thrives under pressure, and evidently so after his explosive innings led the tournament co-hosts to a seven-wicket victory over Canada in the opening game of the T20 World Cup on Saturday night.

Jones, born in New York but raised in Barbados, bludgeoned the Canadian attack, smashing 10 sixes in his unbeaten 94 from 40 balls as he changed the momentum of the game in a superb 131-run third-wicket partnership with Andries Gous.

Jones took full control in the 13th over when he went on the attack against the slow left-arm of Canada captain, Saad Bin Zafar, smashing three sixes in one over.

The game shifted decisively towards the Americans when Jeremy Gordon's medium-fast seamers went for 33 off one disastrous over, with the Canadian adding to his misery with three wides and two no-balls, including a no-ball that cancelled out a potential dismissal of Gous.

Former South Africa Under-19 batsman Gous made 65 off 46 balls before he holed out to deep midwicket off Nikhil Dutta, ending a partnership that had taken the USA from struggling at 42-2 in the seventh over to close to the finish line at 173-3 in the 16th after Canada had set them a target of 195 for victory.

Corey Anderson, the former New Zealand all-rounder, came in to accompany Jones who fittingly ended the contest with his 10th sixth of the night.

It was the perfect start to the tournament for the co-hosts, with the crowd at the compact Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas roaring with delight as Jones smashed the Canadian attack around the ground.

"I don't think it is easy to put it into words," said Jones, whose 10 sixes are the second most in a T20 World Cup innings behind West Indian Chris Gayle's 11 against England in 2016.

"With our batting line-up, we knew anything under 200 is chasable. I go through my processes and I like my power hitting. I know if I get it in the middle, it will go for sure. I like to come in when the team is under pressure, it brings out the best in me," he said.

Canada, also making their T20 World Cup debut, had set what appeared a challenging target, with Navneet Dhaliwal making a well-paced 61 off 44 balls, including six fours and three sixes after opener Aaron Johnson had set the early pace with an aggressive 23 off 16 balls.

Nicholas Kirton maintained the momentum in the back half of the innings with 51 off 31 balls and Shreyas Movva's 32 off 16 was crucial in getting Canada to what looked to be a strong total in the Group A match before Jones wreaked havoc.

"We started well, But Jones and Gous batted exceptionally. Our bowlers had no chance," said skipper Bin Zafar.

"Our bowlers missed their lines and lengths, and we shouldn't have given away the no-balls and extras. We played an exceptional game overall. Nothing to be sad about, the effort from the boys was good. This is just the start and hope we can do well in the next game," he said.

The USA is co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies, with 16 of the group games being held in three American venues – South Florida and New York along with Dallas.

India, Pakistan and Ireland are also competing in Group A with two nations qualifying for the Super Eight stage.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 7:05 PM