Canada do not want to finish as also-rans (Team Profile, World Cup Countdown)

February 10th, 2011 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Bharat Sharma
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Canada, essentially a mix of expats from India and Pakistan, are eager to prove a point in the Feb 19-April 2 cricket World Cup. They do not want to finish as also-rans but want to create some buzz.Canada, coming to the sub-continent for their fourth World Cup appearance, have done precious little as compared to the other minnows. They are on an eight-match losing streak in cricket’s mega event, their last win coming against Bangladesh in the 2003 edition.

They are battling poor form as they managed four victories in the last 11 One-day Internationals with the losses coming against teams like Scotland and Afghanistan, who failed to qualify for the marquee event.

The North American side’s preparation has not been ideal either. Players of Pakistan origin — vice captain Rizwan Cheema, Khurram Chohan and Hamza Tariq — could not be part of the World Cup preparatory trip to India in November due to visa problems. The trio were granted visas only last week and now are training with the squad in International Cricket Council’s Global Cricket Academy in Dubai.

Despite the problems surrounding the team, captain Ashish Bagai is confident of a better showing this time around.

“Our realistic goal is to get to the second round,” said Bagai.

“What we need is three good victories in the first round. If we can beat Kenya and Zimbabwe and upset one of the Test-playing nations, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, we will get there.”

If the team has to enter the quarter-finals, their most experienced players, wicketkeeperbatsman Bagai and flamboyant all-rounder John Davison will need to fire.

Bagai, with 54 ODI caps, has been in splendid form, scoring five fifties in the last 10 matches. The Delhi-born cricketer, playing his third World Cup, has the important task of galvanising a side that has six under-19 players.

Davison’s success is critical to the team’s chances, as he is an attacking batsman. His cracking 111 off 76 balls against West Indies in the 2003 edition is the second fastest century in the Cup’s history. His knock of 52 off 31 balls against New Zealand in 2007 is another testimony to his batting prowess.

Davison has picked 31 wickets in 27 ODIs with his off-spinners and could come handy on the slow wickets in the sub-continent. The lanky player had initially refused to be part of the side, protesting the omission of two players who he thought should have been in the squad, but relented.

Fast bowler Henry Osinde, who played in the Caribbean, and Chohan will share the bowling responsibilities.

Canada plays its opening match against Sri Lanka Feb 20 in Hambantota.

Squad: Ashish Bagai (captain/wicketkeeper), Rizwan Cheema (vice captain), Harvir Baidwan, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel, Tyson Gordon, Henry Osinde, John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Parth Desai, Karl Whatham, Khurram Chohan, Jimmy Hansra, Zubin Surkari, Balaji Rao.

Fixtures: Feb 20 vs Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Feb 28 vs Zimbabwe (Nagpur), Mar 3 vs Pakistan (Colombo), Mar 7 vs Kenya (New Delhi), Mar 13 vs New Zealand (Mumbai), Mar 16 vs Australia (Bangalore).

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