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    'Minnows need to show worth'

    The ICC has decided to trim down the next World Cup to a 10-team affair.

    Chennai: As lopsided opening round matches in World Cup seem to have vindicated the ICC's move to trim down the future showpiece event to a 10-team affair, Canada captain Ashish Bagai of Indian origin on Thursday said it is for the associate teams to show their worth on the field.

    "Obviously, it is very disappointing as a player. It is pretty frustrating for countries that are trying to make strides and kind of grow. But it is a decision ICC has made.

    It is for us to show them on the field what we are capable of and its worth having us," he told reporters here.

    Canada lost their first league match against Sri Lanka by 210 runs, while New Zealand thrashed Kenya in Chennai by 10 wickets after bundling them out for 69 runs, justifying ICC's decision to keep out minnows from the next edition of the mega-event.

    But the Delhi-born Bagai, who had earlier indicated that his team was eyeing an upset win, besides victories over Kenya and Zimbabwe on road to quarterfinals, admitted Hambantota game was snatched away by two world class batsmen in Mahela Jayawardene and captain Kumar Sangakkara, who shared a 179-run partnership.

    "Our medium pacers did a decent job against Sri Lanka in the first 26 overs and contained them to around 4 to 4.5 runs per over. Then these two world class batsmen took the game away from us," he said during an interaction with media after a three-hour practice session at the MA Chidambaram stadium.

    Asked how the associate teams should go about the process of making it to the World Cup next time and perhaps make ICC change their decision, the skipper said: "I don't think this is the time to answer it. At the moment, we are focussing on this World Cup and are taking one game at a time. In six weeks' time, when the tournament is over, we will have a better idea of who made the right decision."

    Canada will take on Zimbabwe next in Nagpur on February 28 and Bagai said one of their aims was to target them (Zimbabwe) and Kenya.

    "I think it is going to be a game of spinners. They have got a couple of good spinners bowling the early overs and if we can get through those overs and score at a consistent rate, we can do well. Same with our bowling; if we can get our spinners to fire on that day, hopefully it will work for us."

    He admitted that the sub-continent conditions would be difficult to handle for his team members even though six of them have Indian roots but hoped that their month-long tour of India in November last year would stand them in good stead.

    "Obviously it's going to be a battle for us. We have some roots in the country. But the younger guys have not played much cricket in the sub-continent as they have grown up in Canada. It is a bit of tough chance for us.

    "During the tour, the Canadian team played matches in Delhi, Raipur, Nagpur and Mumbai against 'some decent' opposition. But we are still getting used to the weather. It is pretty hot in Chennai today. It is good for us that we have got seven days' break before our next game in Nagpur, which I do not think will be as hot as Chennai," he said.

    Stating that his team's strength is bowling, Bagai said, "We have very diverse bowling attack..a bit of swing. We bowl within ourselves. There is no express pace. In the past, it has been explosive hitting but we haven't seen that from the senior batsmen yet."

    On the side being packed with several under-19 players, he said it was a positive sign for a country.

    "This is the first time at a global event where Canada has showcased five under-19 players. Although from Indian roots, they have learnt and played their cricket in Canada.

    They are products of our system and we are proud of them."

    Bagai said Canada was in talks with different Test-playing nations so that the "talented youngsters" can get more exposure.

    "We are in talks with different boards to get them exposed to different academies in the next two years and hope to see results from these guys in three or four years."

    Meanwhile, senior player W D Balaji Rao, who earlier played for India 'A' and Tamil Nadu before moving over to Canada, said his side had a good track record against Zimbabwe and looked forward to a positive outcome.

    "Ashish has consistently performed against Zimbabwe. We also have a couple of batsmen like John Davison and Rizwan Cheema who have more regularly performed well against Zimbabwe and top teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan."