Canada's Ashish Bagai relishes home support

Ashish Bagai relished home support in Delhi

By Abhaya Srivastava

New Delhi: Mar 8, 2011

Canada captain Ashish Bagai relished “home” support as he led his team to a much-needed World Cup win over fellow minnows Kenya before an array of family and friends in New Delhi.

Bagai, born in the Indian capital, emigrated to Canada with his family as an 11-year-old but still has strong ties with the country of his birth. His connections were evident on Monday as members of his family cheered vociferously from the stands at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

“It was indeed a special win for us as it came in front of the Delhi crowd which wanted us to do well,” said Bagai, after the day-night match, which finished in a five-wicket win for Canada. “I had my entire family present. My grandparents, parents and cousins — about 50 people were cheering us. It was good to have them, it was great!”

Bagai’s captain’s knock of 64 not out was complemented by Jimmy Hansra, another Indian-born member of the Canadian squad.

Hansra, born in Ludhiana in the northern state of Punjab, hit a sparkling 70 that included seven fours and two sixes as Canada overhauled Kenya’s 198 with 27 balls to go. Bagai said the win would spur his team to perform well in their remaining group matches.

“We are looking to use this as a spark for the second half of the first round. My goal now is to get the batsmen who are performing to be consistent and leave the first round on a high.” The victory was Canada’s first in four matches and only the second ever in a World Cup after the 60-run triumph against Bangladesh in the 2003 edition.

Kenya skipper Jimmy Kamande was left to rue missed opportunities. “I will not hide it. It definitely is the most disappointing of our tournament losses,” he said. “I still believe we should have done much better against Canada. Man to man, they were not as strong as our previous opponents, so the loss is hurting now.”

Kenya next take on holders Australia on March 13 and Kamande said his side would draw positives from the Canada game.

“If we analyse the whole game, we were at 57 for five and from there on, to reach 198 was a good recovery. We go to Bangalore to play the Aussies. Whatever we did against Canada, we hope to build on that. We have to improve on each and every aspect of the game and give it our best shot.”