Defending champions USA ready for Division 1 challenge

Wed, May 19, 2010 2:08 PM

Defending champions USA ready for Division 1 challenge
Imran Khan, manager of USA national team, said in an interview that the squad would want to continue its recent run of good form by successfully defending the Pepsi ICC Americas World Cricket League Division 1 title in Bermuda later this month.

The team clinched the 2008 Division 1 championship by virtue of an 87-run Duckworth-Lewis victory over the Cayman Islands in the final game of the event, and thus finished its campaign unbeaten.

Other than USA and hosts Bermuda, four teams, including Argentina, Division 2 winners Bahamas, Canada and Cayman Islands will compete in the tournament which runs from 28 May to 6 June and includes both 50-over and Twenty20 fixtures.

The full interview is given below:

What preparations has the team made for the event?

Due to the geographic and strategic challenges that we face here in the United States, it has proven extremely difficult for the national squad to reconvene for a camp or training session on a regular basis. However, in late April, a fitness trials session was conducted in New York to assess the fitness of all members of the squad that partook in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE and the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 event in Nepal. We also invited several new players who are in consideration for the Americas Cup 2010.

Thus our preparations are not as ideal as we would like them to be but with respect to the available resources, training has thus far been limited

Which have been your most memorable performances ahead of this event?

We have had some memorable performances over the course of the last three tournaments. Beating UAE by one wicket in the WT20 Qualifier in Abu Dhabi was an excellent achievement against a side playing at home. We would also count beating Scotland in the same tournament by six wickets as a real ground-breaking achievement. Scotland had prepared well and had participated in the ICC WT20 2009, and for a Division 5 team to beat them was an excellent accomplishment.

However, the result that has really superseded all else was our victory against Nepal in WCL Division 5 in the same country. Playing in front of 20,000 partisan fans in Nepal and then beating them comprehensively in 35 overs due to run rate considerations not only showed the character and quality of our side, but it also displayed the potential we have and what we can achieve if given the time and resources.

Who do you consider to be key players in your team?
We are a team in every respect and thus all our players are key to our success. However, if one has to name a few then the likes of Steve Massiah, Carl Wright, Orlando Baker, Usman Shuja, Adithya Thyagarajan and Sushil Nadkarni have all proven to be match winners over the course of the last three tournaments.

USA was declared winners of ICC Americas WCL Division 1 in 2008. Are you confident of successfully defending the title?

USA won the 2008 tournament in an undefeated fashion; we comprehensively destroyed the likes of Bermuda, Canada and the Cayman Islands, thus naturally we are confident this time round as well. However, we also know that these are quality sides and will look to readdress their own failings and come back stronger, tougher and more determined. Therefore, it will not be easy as Canada plays almost all year and Bermuda has had a lot of money invested in improving its cricket. But as stated earlier, we have character and if we can get it right then we are confident of repeating our successes.

Due to our position and ranking, we feel we have a lot to prove every time we get on the park and this tournament is just like any other, thus we are positive and looking forward to an excellent tournament.

What do you consider to be your team strengths and weaknesses?

Our strength is simple. We are a team that fears no one and is always geared to perform under any condition or duress. Our mental toughness has increased due to the quality of our squad and we feel we can compete with anyone.

Our weakness lies in our lack of preparation and experience. We simply do not play enough cricket to be 100% ready all of the time. Therefore, fitness and injuries can be a factor.

How do you look back at your performance in Pepsi ICC WCL Div 5 in Nepal?

Taking part in the Pepsi ICC WCL Div 5 in Nepal after playing in the ICC WT20 Qualifier was always going to present its own challenges. We were carrying injuries, players were fatigued as they had never played so much consecutive cricket and thus it was a hard tour from that perspective. However, the experience, the exposure and the beautiful nation of Nepal negated all of those concerns and we had an amazing time of it. We were extremely disappointed in losing to Nepal in the final but that is what can happen when you play quality sides.

I think our learning curve certainly climbed very steeply and the players really began to enjoy the aspect of touring and learned how tours are conducted and objectives achieved. We wanted to qualify for Division 4 and we did that so overall it was a wonderful opportunity and we availed our target.

The full squad is as follows: Steve Massiah (captain), Muhammad Asad Ghous, Azurdeen Mohammed, Ashhar Mehdi, Rashard Marshall, Sushil Nadkarni, Timroy Allen, Orlando Baker, Carl Wright, Aditya Thyagarajan, Mohammad Bilal Khan, Adrian Gordon, Lennox Cush, Moazzam Imtiaz

For more information on the event, click here

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