By R Kaushik in Colombo
Pakistan captain knows he won't get any crowd support but says he hopes fans will back the team that plays better cricket
“We are really blessed with some very good spinners in the world like Saeed Ajmal, Shahid (Afidi) and newcomer Raza Hasan is showing great talent,” said Hafeez, who himself is a more than competent off-spinner. “It’s because of our spinners that we are doing a great job in this format, because in Twenty20 cricket, spinners play a major role in getting wickets and putting the opposition under pressure.”
Sri Lanka plays spin better than most teams in the world, and also has its own quota of world-class spinners, including Ajantha Mendis, who has troubled Pakistan in the past.
“Our spinners are quality spinners and they have proved themselves in all conditions,” said Hafeez. “Sri Lanka also plays spin well. From what we have seen of the conditions here, it will suit the spinners. At the end of the day, whichever team plays well will come out the winner. It's not only our spinners, even Umar Gul has been very good at whatever role he has been given.”
Hafeez said Pakistan will come up with a plan for Mendis, but said there was more to the Sri Lankan attack than just Mendis. “Mendis is the one who is always very good in the Twenty20 format,” said Hafeez. “We have played each other quite often, so we know each other as players. We will come up with a plan hopefully tomorrow.
“We know that Sri Lanka has good seamers. (Nuwan) Kulasekera is playing a good role for them and (Lasith) Malinga is also one of them. We have to play good positive cricket. The reason behind our success is that we are playing positively and supporting each other. We will not target any one player. We all know their abilities. We believe as a team that we can beat them.”
Playing with freedom and unveiling surprises were keys to winning Twenty20 games, Hafeez pointed out. “As a team, we play very freely in Twenty20 cricket. It allows you to go out there and express yourself,” said Hafeez. “It also is about throwing up surprises every time you play. In ICC tournaments, you play different oppositions and we are really trying to come up with surprises. I have no idea what it will be tomorrow, but you will know it tomorrow as well.”
Pakistan has been well supported at the Premadasa so far, but Hafeez isn’t unaware that things will be different on Thursday. “We are not playing in front of our home grounds or in our home conditions. Playing away from home, we are quite used to it. The crowd supports us in some places, in other places it doesn’t. I wish tomorrow, the crowd will support the team that plays better cricket,” said Hafeez.
“It's a very difficult time for Pakistan because we are not using our own territory, but it's amazing the victories we are getting in such difficult circumstances,” added Hafeez. “I hope it continues in future too.”