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    Bagai shrugs off memories of 2003 WC

    Bagai played in the Canada side which was bowled out for a paltry 36 - still the lowest total in all WC.

    Hambantota: Canada captain Ashish Bagai insists that the record-breaking World Cup rout suffered at the hands of Sri Lanka in 2003 will have no bearing when the teams meet on Sunday.

    Bagai played in the Canada side which was bowled out for a paltry 36 - still the lowest total in all World Cup tournaments - at Paarl in South Africa.

    But the 29-year-old, Delhi-born wicketkeeper, is adamant that the humiliating loss is not an issue.

    "There are only two guys from that World Cup here - myself and John Davison - and we don't talk about that game too much. But the one before that is still in my mind," said Bagai, of his team's only World Cup win against Bangladesh at Benoni in 2003.

    Bagai has instructed his team to play without fear and not freeze when they face 1996 champions Sri Lanka on Sunday in their opening Group A clash.

    "I hope the players play freely. I want to see the young guys play their natural game and the older guys show responsibility, like they did in the warm-up match against England," said the captain.

    Canada lost their first warm-up against Bangladesh by nine wickets but handed England a mighty scare when they fell just 16 runs short of a 244-run target, with hard-hitting batsman Rizwan Cheema scoring a rapid 71-ball 93.

    "It was a decent performance against England and although not everything went right it helped our spirits going into tournament," said Bagai, playing in his third World Cup.

    "We are here to play a good brand of cricket and showcase to the world that we can play a little bit. Nobody expects us to win and we want to use it to our advantage."

    Bagai also criticised the International Cricket Council's decision to slash the World Cup from 14 to 10 teams for the 2015 tournament in Australia and Sri Lanka.

    "Everyone from the associate world including players from Test world have said it's a real shame for the game."

    If they want to play Tests, fine, but the World Cup should involve as much of the world as possible. It's a shame and very disappointing for players like us who were looking for opportunities to play against the best and improve.

    "It's really going to hold back the growth of the game. If they want to keep it to 10 teams, which they want to do, that's fine, but it's never going to be a global sport."

    Bagai said the move to increase the World Twenty20 teams to 16 may be inspired by commercial reasons.

    "You can see where the ICC is headed and the direction they think cricket is going, so it might be a commercial move because T20 probably sells the best globally."