The Pakistan captain is not going to take Bangladesh lightly and says his team is focussed and ready
Bangladesh has a mountain to climb in its last league match against Pakistan, and Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain, knows as much. It’s not so much the fact that it needs to beat Pakistan well, but that it’s going to come up against a bowling attack that will pose far more questions than New Zealand’s did, irrespective of what the conditions are.
If there’s help for the quick bowlers, which is what locals are expecting, Umar Gul will lead the way, while Sohail Tanvir is keen to hit his straps. “We have always relied on our fast bowlers,” said Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan’s captain. “Since the past couple of years, the spinners have been controlling the performances. Ajmal and Afridi have been excellent. My bowling benefits the team always as I look to bowl economically. I am not a wicket-taker.
“That is why there is a bit less pressure on the fast bowlers. But they need to improve. Umar Gul and Tanvir have been match-winners for us. I hope they will execute their skills better in the coming games.”
Hafeez was the epitome of understatement when he spoke of his spinners. In the past year, Saeed Ajmal has tormented a variety of teams in different conditions, and in limited-overs cricket, there are few bowlers more difficult to target than Shahid Afridi. “We have different spinners in our side,” said Hafeez. “Afridi is a totally different spinner from Bangladesh’s spinners. They rely more on left-arm spin. Ajmal is always difficult for any batsman to pick with his doosra. We rely on them as match-winners. I am happy the way Afridi came up today, his confidence is growing. We are looking forward to him giving more performances with his bowling and batting.”
Hafeez also insisted that there was no chance that his team would be taking things lightly against Bangladesh. “We are not thinking as if we have already qualified [for the Super Eights],” he said. “We have to play well against Bangladesh, who we know can come hard. On certain days in T20, anybody can win. We are not going to take anyone easily. All the boys are focussed. The most important thing as a unit is every player wants to do well for Pakistan and is working hard. Every man is ready to perform under pressure.”
Bangladesh, for its part, has not beaten Pakistan in any format since 1999. This brings pressure of its own. “There’s pressure in every game,” said Mushfiqur. “Even Pakistan would think the same way. They would not want to lose to Bangladesh. What we need to do is play well in all departments. In the last game, we didn’t do 60 percent of what we are able to. If we can play to our 100 percent, it will be a positive result. As you have said, we haven’t defeated them in 13 years. Tomorrow is another opportunity to beat them.”
Mushfiqur admitted that Ajmal was on his mind. “He’s a big factor,” he said. “He will start bowling in the Powerplay when we have to take some risks. We can’t play all their bowlers normally, but attack some. We have players for that, and we are planning in that way. If we can execute these plans, hopefully we’ll do well.”