Hafeez is banking on the veterans in the squad to lead Pakistan to World Twenty20 glory
Pakistan Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez believes his team have the experience to go on and win the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 this year, just like they did back in 2009.
Hafeez also noted that Pakistan’s familiarity with the conditions in Sri Lanka will give them an advantage over the other international nations.
“Winning the World Cup is always something special for the nation, we have done it two times earlier and this time we’ve got a good chance and have a good team. We have also got good momentum after winning the [Twenty20 international] series against Australia [in the UAE] and that has boosted the morale of the team,” Hafeez said.
In the inaugural edition of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, Pakistan lost in the finals to arch-rivals India, but managed to bounce back in 2009 and win the tournament, however things did not go as well for them in the 2010 World Twenty20 as they were knocked out in the semi-finals.
“We have done a great job in the last three T20 tournaments, we have been very successful in the event. We really want to ensure that we should not be complacent. We have a good team with some of our players having played a lot of T20 cricket. Shahid Afridi is one those along with Yasir Arafat, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir. We’ve got good specialists in the team and have a combination that can do really well in these conditions in the mega event,” Hafeez added.
Afridi, who came into the tournament recovering from a finger injury, has not looked like himself as his batting continues to deteriorate, while his outstanding bowling is the only thing that secures his spot in the side.
Even though many cricket pundits believe Afridi is starting to lose his ability to thump the ball into the stands, Hafeez believes he is still a huge asset to the team.
“He is one of the experienced lads in our side. He is a match-winner for us since the past 15 years. He has ample experience to come out and perform on any day. He is in good shape and feeling confident,” Hafeez said.
In the past few months, Pakistan have grown accustomed to the pitch conditions in Sri Lanka after touring the country in June to play three Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals.
Many members of the Pakistan national team also took part in the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League just before the start of the World Twenty20.
“We have been allowed by the PCB to play in the SLPL mainly because they wanted us to get used to the conditions. Most of us have played here before and [also] the recent series win [against Australia] gives us the confidence that we can do something special,” Hafeez added.
Hafeez also mentioned that he was unconcerned about the pitches not being as spin-friendly as they used to, even though Pakistan are known for having a brilliant spin attack, led by Afridi, Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal.
“We know that the Pallekele pitch is suited for fast bowlers and we are prepared to execute with the mix we have got. We have good seamers and spinners,” Hafeez said.
Throughout the tournament Pakistan have looked poor in the field, but even though there have been some flashes of brilliance, Hafeez stated that consistent fielding would put pressure on the opposing batsmen.
“T20 demands a lot of energy and we have seen the team doing well in fielding winning more matches, we are working very hard to bring more energy in the field. The boys have taken most of the catches in the recent series against Australia and we are looking forward to an improved show in the field,” Hafeez added.