Canada will be travelling to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (WT20Q) with a mixture of youth and experience, including the returning captain, Ashish Bagai, who had a brief spell out of the game.
The tournament, scheduled to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 15 to 30 November, will see Canada placed in Group A in Abu Dhabi alongside Namibia, Uganda, USA, Italy, Hong Kong, UAE and current champion Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Bagai said: “Obviously, Ireland will be favourites in our group, then UAE has been playing decent T20 cricket lately as well and Namibia, so those three are going to be pretty tough games that could go either way. We are going to be preparing as best we can, we’ve done some homework on them and we know that they are the games we need to win if we want to ensure qualification.”
Canada has been busy preparing for the tournament and the 31-year-old wicketkeeper explained what the side has been up to, saying, “Our preparation has been going pretty well. We finished our season back home in the beginning of October, which was a good timeframe for the qualifiers.
“We then had a couple of weeks off before the team all got together again to train indoors and also have some net sessions. Now the team are in Sri Lanka, we are going to have about 10-12 days in Sri Lanka before we head to Dubai, so, overall the team should be well prepared and in good shape.
“In Sri Lanka, we have Scotland and Kenya here as well, so we are trying to play matches against both of those as well as some matches against some combined first class player teams. Then hopefully we can get something to do with Sri Lanka A as well.”
Canada finished sixth in the previous event, held in the UAE in 2012, and Bagai, although wanting to improve on the side’s previous performance, is keen simply to finish in the top six to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
“Being a Twenty20 short format competition you obviously go in there to finish on top. Our first goal is, however, to qualify, but if you get that far there is no reason any of the top six Associate countries can’t win the tournament.
“In saying that, it is not going to be easy, we haven’t really had the results we would have wanted in the last year or so. We know there is a lot of hard work ahead, but we are absolutely going in there to win the tournament.
“Our first match is against the USA and we play them quite a bit and they are neighbours, so there is a natural rivalry. We going to come out hard against all of the teams but it will be good to get that first one out of the way and hopefully have one win under our belt. We will go into that match confident, as we have had some good battles in the past,” said Bagai.
The team has been working on improving key elements of its game, explained Bagai, who has represented Canada in 62 ODIs and seven Twenty20 Internationals.
“There are a whole bunch of areas that we’ve targeted for our improvement since the last qualifier, I don’t think there is anything there that we are happy with completely, however there are some more than others.
“Fielding has obviously been a concern, and it has been a big focus for the last 12 months or so to lift our standard of fielding. Death bowling is another one that we have been working on, finishing off games. Top of the order has also been a problem, losing wickets early, so like I said all three areas are crucial, the first six overs in the batting department, the last six overs in the bowling department and overall fielding,” said Bagai.
Identifying the players that fans of the game should keep an eye out for, Bagai named a trio of players. “On the bowling side of things we’ve got a player called Jeremy Gordon who previously played for Guyana as well, he’s a quick bowler and not too many teams have seen him.
“He has got some pace and some oomph about him. He’s done really well this season and really matured. He has always had some pace but he has really got some control this year.
“On the batting side, two of our young guys Hiral Patel and Ruvindu Gunasekera have had decent seasons, Ruvindu particularly, he scored a lot of runs this summer against The Netherlands and UAE. He’s going to be the key for us at the top of the order.”
Canada’s opening match against the USA will be played at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, on 15 November.
Canada – Ashish Bagai (captain), Havir Baidwan, Rizwan Cheema, Henry Onsinde, Damodar Daesrath, Abzal Dean, Jeremy Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Jimmy Hansra, Kenny Kamyuka, Usman Limbada, Hiral Patel, Raza Rehman, Junaid Siddiqui, Hamza Tariq