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January 17, 2011
Canada's preparation for the World Cup has been hampered by a delay in Indian visas for four key players in their squad.
Batsman Rizwan Cheema, allrounder Umar Bhatti, paceman Khurram Chohan and back-up keeper Hamza Tariq - all Pakistan-born - were all ruled out of Canada's recent pre-tournament warm-up in India and Ranjit Saini, the Cricket Canada president, told Pakistan's Daily Mail the problems have damaged the team.
"[We have been] waiting to have visas processed for several months now," he said. "Canada took a pre-World Cup preparatory visit to India in November and the visas were applied for before that.
"We couldn't take these players to India and as a result our training plans have suffered. [It's] a source of distraction and is hurting team morale in general. We are making efforts but so far there is no outcome. They are the star players of our team, Rizwan Cheema was in the IPL auction."
Saini confirmed that Canada will take a full-strength to Bangladesh in February for the official World Cup warm-up matches and the opening ceremony before proceeding to Colombo for their opening fixture, against Sri Lanka. The team is currently competing in the Caribbean T20, where they won a stirring encounter with England domestic Twenty20 Champions Hampshire.
They have just two days from returning from that tournament before they head off to Dubai to prepare for the World Cup and Saini is hoping the visas can be sorted by then.
"The problem is that if this is not resolved in next week or so, the team will be on the move and players can't come back to Canada for visa processing. The short window of opportunity is now causing the issue to become a major problem."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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