Babar and Khan will play key roles during the World T20, says Mohammad Hafeez


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Hafeez believes Babar and Khan have a chance to make a name for themselves

Pakistan Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez has announced that he believes left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and batsman Sharjeel Khan will play a crucial role during the national team’s World Twenty20 campaign.

Hafeez also conceded that Pakistan will sorely miss left-arm pace bowler Mohammad Irfan, who was ruled out of the tournament after failing to sufficiently recover from a hip injury.

“We can still make an impact, and this impact could be in the shape of Zulfiqar Babar,” Hafeez said. “Sharjeel Khan is another, and his explosive attitude could benefit the team. Irfan will be missed because his first two overs could have been lethal, but it’s an opportunity for others to come and make an impact.

“If you see we have a very good combination for the conditions, if you look at World Twenty20. We have world-class spinners in Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqar Babar, and along with this experience, we have youth in the form of [Mohammad] Talha and Bilawal Bhatti. Irfan is an impact bowler, there’s no doubt about it, but unfortunately he couldn’t recover.”

Hafeez also defended the national selectors’ decision to recall wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal and all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

“Yes, I have always encouraged youngsters but unfortunately the players we have relied on haven’t performed in the recent past,” he said. “The selectors thought it’s a big event and you need experience so I think that’s why they included Kamran Akmal and I wish him all the [best].”

However, before they can start thinking about the World Twenty20, Pakistan will have to shift their focus towards the Asia Cup, which they are preparing for with three daily training sessions at the Gaddafi Stadium and National Cricket Academy.

“You can’t say we are the hot favourites for the event but we are taking the confidence that we are defending champions,” he said. “You can’t take anyone easy; you have to play good cricket to get good results. India is a good team. When we went there we beat them last year; we always try to bring good results against them and this time too we will try to bring good results.”

When asked about head coach Moin Khan’s comments about a fear of failure within the team, Hafeez said: “It comes when you feel insecure but when the management ensures that you will get maximum opportunity you obviously give your best and express yourself [without any fear].”

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