powered by

03 December 201015:29

Bagai happy with World Cup preparations

Bagai believes the tour has given him and the team's selectors an idea of the players in the final squad

Bagai happy with World Cup preparations - Cricket News

Ashish Bagai of Canada.

Canada captain Ashish Bagai is pleased with his team's just concluded preparatory tour to India as part of the build-up to ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

Bagai believes the tour has given him and the team's selectors an idea of the players who have booked their place on the final squad for the showpiece event.

"It's been useful for two reasons. It helped us get used to conditions, weather and environment. The second most important help has been the fact that we have been able to try different players for those four-five vacant spots in the squad. We have managed to achieve both the objectives thanks to good wickets and excellent facilities. Almost everyone we have here has played a game. The only thing is that six-seven of our main players were not on tour due to mixed reasons, but we have still done well," said Bagai.

Canada XI started off the tour in Delhi, and then moved to Raipur in Central India and then Nagpur for games at one of the venues of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, before winding up the tour in Mumbai.

"In Delhi we played against club sides. Then in Raipur and Nagpur we played the XIs from the state Ranji sides. In Raipur we got an opportunity to play at the new international stadium which was a great experience," recalled Bagai.

What is pleasing for Bagai is the fact that the tour afforded opportunities to the younger players in the squad. The skipper is glad that almost all of them grabbed it.

"Rizwan Cheema, Khurram Chouhan, Umar Bhatti, Johnson Davison, Jeff Barnett and Ian Billcliff were all missing. We lacked their experience but it was a good tour for the juniors. We have had Hiral Patel scoring a 90-100 in every game against good state sides as an opener. Then 19-year-old Ravindu Gunasekara has got a couple of good scores. As a team we have scored 300 in every game which is a good sign. The tour has been a great opportunity for the juniors. Our bowling needs to improve, but in terms of training and conditions it has gone off well."

Though Canada XI may not have won many games on tour, Bagai prefers to look at the big picture.

"Winning and losing on this tour is not that important. The bigger goal is to get used to the conditions. The players are getting used to that and the objectives for the tour have been achieved."

Bagai, on his part, has been sitting out most of the games owing to a recurring injury. He has had to watch most of the action from the sidelines

"I have an ongoing injury for the last 12 months called the femoral syndrome on left knee. This basically causes a lot of pain when bones touch each other. I have been busy with physiotherapy. I have been somehow just trying to manage the situation till the Cricket World Cup. I will go in for a surgery after that because it involves a 10-month recovery period," explained Bagai.

As the injury keeps him away from the action, Bagai can only keep talking to himself. "It is frustrating at times, but I say `just hold on till the World Cup'."

The good part for Bagai is to see his brother Akshay come on tour and do well as a spinner.

"It is always good to have your brother in the same side while playing for the country. He played for Canada seven years ago and then went to medical school. He was in Australia for two months to train. He has been the leading wicket-taker in the domestic league. The selectors wanted to try out an extra spinner in these conditions and I am glad it has paid off."

Canada XI head back home for a two-week break, before resuming its build-up to the showpiece event. Bagai believes all plans are in place for Canada as they countdown to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

"We now go back and have a two-week off. Then we will have a strength and training camp. In January we will train and then participate in West Indies' domestic T20 tournament in a 10-day tour. After that we will be in Dubai for a training camp and then head straight to Dhaka for warm-up games. It is a pretty focused schedule and will hold us in good stead."

In fact Bagai did not hesitate in saying that this was probably the most well prepared Canada team to ever head into a Cricket World Cup.

"This is probably the most well prepared Canada team going into an ICC Cricket World Cup. We have been fortunate that we now have six-seven players playing full time. The other guys will be part time until the end of the World Cup. We now have a squad which has 11-12 guys who are playing together for the last nine months as a team. It helps us focus on the Cricket World Cup," concluded Bagai.