Pakistan captain says the team is responding well under pressure and it is looking forward to Sunday's game
There is always tremendous hype ahead of an India-Pakistan clash at a global tournament, and it’s no different this time around, with the teams scheduled to face off on Sunday in a crucial Group 2 Super Eights match at the ICC World Twenty20 2012.
Some have termed this the final before the final, but it’s not a trap Mohammad Hafeez wants Pakistan to fall into. “I don’t think this is a concept we players think of,” said Hafeez. “This is another game for us and we will try to do our best. India obviously brings greater expectations, so there is pressure on both sides. But we’ve been playing each other and the pressure has gotten a little less. We’re not thinking of it as a final, it is a normal game of cricket in which we have to do our best.
“We are not really taking pressure, especially in this tournament. The boys are showing great character, they are taking every game positively, the approach is great. We’re really happy that the boys are responding under pressure. Against India, all I can say as a captain is that everyone is looking forward to the game. We won the warm-up game, so that will give us confidence. Also, we have been playing good cricket throughout the tournament, so that will boost the confidence of the players.”
This game has been touted in some quarters as a battle between India’s batting might and the depth and versatility of Pakistan’s bowling. “I want to clarify that our strength is our whole team, we are not relying on one particular thing,” said Hafeez. “Since we started this campaign, our batting and bowling have both been winning us matches, we have not been successful because of only one discipline. Both are our strengths, and all guys are playing their roles. We’re playing positively and we’re quite hopeful that we can play better cricket in this tournament.”
While the batting and the bowling have been up to the mark, Pakistan has had its problems in the field, and Hafeez didn’t need any reminding that in the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final at Mohali in March 2011, Sachin Tendulkar alone was dropped four times. “We as a team are working really hard on that, in practice sessions,” he said. “We work extra hard in that area. In this tournament and in the last series against Australia, we have shown good character in the field. It happens sometimes that you drop a few chances. But overall, we are happy with the effort of the boys, especially in this heat and difficult conditions.”
This tournament hasn’t yet seen the best of Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi, both former captains, but Hafeez was quick to spring to their defence. “For us, both are match-winners, always have been,” he said. “Both are experienced and in our side, their role has always been good. You don’t finish a career on the basis of one bad match. Afridi has always done well for Pakistan. His good or bad performances don’t matter to the team as much as his presence in the field does, that is the big thing.
“Malik can bowl, but we will use him whenever we need, according to conditions and team’s requirements. We don’t ignore anyone in the side, we go with what is best for the team.”