Intercontinental Cup, Canada v Afghanistan, King City August 1, 2011

Focussed ahead of Canada game - Hassan

ESPNcricinfo staff

Afghanistan fast bowler Hamid Hassan has said playing on the domestic circuit in Pakistan and Sri Lanka recently has helped his team's preparations ahead of their four-day Intercontinental Cup fixture against Canada. Canada host Afghanistan, the current Intercontinental Cup holders, in a four-day fixture from Tuesday in King City.

"We've played some domestic three-day games in Pakistan and also in Sri Lanka ahead of this first fixture, and we've been very focussed," Hassan said. "I hope we take what we've learnt with us to Canada for our first match of this competition."

Afghanistan, who made their Intercontinental debut in the previous edition of the tournament, beat Scotland in the final, and Hassan said the the team now relished the longer format of the game. "When we first started playing four-day cricket it took us time to embrace it, but now we enjoy it a lot." In March, Hassan was part of the Marylebone Cricket Club team that played against English county champions Nottinghamshire in a four-day game in Abu Dhabi, along with team-mate, Mohammad Nabi.

Hassan, who has played nine first-class games, picking up 52 wickets at 22.32, was the leading wicket-taker in the last edition of the Intercontinental Cup with 43 scalps. He said he was looking forward to a bit of help from the Canadian conditions to build on his tally. "I've never been to Canada but we've been told the weather will be good, and hopefully the wickets will seam around so I'm able to be effective with the ball."

Canada will be under a new captain, Jimmy Hansra, who took over from Ashish Bagai following the World Cup. Hansra said the experience Canada gained at the World Cup, although in a different format, could come in handy. "We're a fairly young team and we're going to be taking what we learnt at the 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup and try to translate that into the four-day competition we're about to start playing."

Playing the defending champions first up, Hansra said, would benefit Canada as it would demonstrate how they measured up in the competition and the areas that needed to be worked on. "It's nice to have a stronger team upfront as it will help us know where we stand. It should help us to prepare for the tournament."

The squads:
Canada: Jimmy Hansra (capt), Harvir Baidwan, Khurram Chohan, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Zahid Hussain, Usman Limbada, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Junaid Siddiqui, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq.

Afghanistan: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Amir Hamza Hotak, Asghar Stanikzai, Dollat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Khan Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammed Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shabir Noori, Shapoor Zadran.