Bagai's focus turns towards World Cup

Canada skipper Ashish Bagai believes the two-match ODI series against Ireland, which starts on Monday, is a vital part of his side's preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

“This may be the last ODI series before the World Cup for us so it is an important tournament for us,” said Bagai.

Bagai, whose side lost to Ireland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup last week, believes that his team's fight back in that match does give Canada hope in the 50-over format of the game.

“As a group we are pretty confident as although we lost the four-day game, our boys are more suited to the one-day form of the game,” he said

“Cricket is very much a momentum game so even though we lost we took some positives which will definitely help us going into the ODI series.

“We lost the I Cup game against Ireland in the first session on the first day, as we didn't hit the ground running, although we did recover on the second and third day.”

Bagai admitted he enjoyed his return to the team during the ICC Intercontinental Cup, top scoring with an impressive 90 in the second innings, but that his ongoing knee injury remains a concern and that he will have to manage it carefully in the coming months.

“It is always good to be back in the side. My knee problems still persist but I am just trying to manage them in the build-up to the World Cup and playing in the games that need to be played in,” he said.

With less than six months to go to the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Bagai is very clear on what his aims are in the build up to the competition.

“There are two real objectives for us in the next six months. The first one is to get individual skill levels and strategies worked out for every single player on the squad. That is for them to do individually along with the coach and the leadership group,” he said.

“The second aim is for myself and the coaching staff to find a combination that is going to work well in those conditions and identify key roles for every player. We are still trying to find the perfect formula and that is hopefully going to be worked out in our trip to India later in the year and at a training camp in Dubai. It is an important six months ahead of us.”

And how far does Bagai think his team can get in the ICC Cricket World Cup?

“Our realistic aim is to get two wins in the first round against Kenya and Zimbabwe and we are really gunning for an upset in the other four games,” he said.

“If we get three wins then we have a very chance of making it through to the quarter-finals and that is our goal. If you don't have that goal then there is no point going to the World Cup.”