Associate teams under pressure to perform - Umar Bhatti
Canada medium-pacer Umar Bhatti has admitted Associate countries, like his own, are under pressure to perform well in the 2011 World Cup. "The ICC has invested so much money in Associate cricket so there is pressure to do well, but we have to take in our stride. There has been enough time to prepare and we know what we are going to come against. If we use the next six months wisely then I am sure the Associate teams can compete against the Full Members," Bhatti said.
"There is also pressure on us to do well and showcase what Associate cricket can offer to a wider audience around the world."
Canada finished fifth in the World Cricket League Division One tournament in the Netherlands after experiencing a run of five consecutive losses. They take on Sri Lanka in their opening game of the World Cup in Hambantota.
"It is a big honour to play against a team like Sri Lanka, which is clearly one of the best teams in the world, in the opening game," Bhatti said. "We are all really excited and hopefully there will be a big crowd there supporting both the sides. A World Cup in South Asia is huge.
"The whole experience of playing against the Test-playing nations will be a great one."
Canada's next ODI assignment is a three-match series against Ireland in September. "We need to control what we can in terms of our fitness and fielding. If we take care of what we can control then we will have a chance of doing well," Bhatti said.
"The turnaround for Canada was the 2003 World Cup victory against Bangladesh as since then cricket has really taken off in Canada. If we do well next year it will do a world of good to the popularity of cricket in Canada."