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‘Anybody can win in T20’

Calcutta/Pallekele: Pakistan would look to win by a huge margin to ensure their place in the Super Eights when they take on minnows Bangladesh on Tuesday. The two teams have faced each other in this format five times and Pakistan have won five times.

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 Mohammed Hafeez, Pakistan’s captain to the ICC website.

“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 against New Zealand, 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.”

Meanwhile another stalwart in the team, former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said Bangladesh have some dangerous players in the side so they will not take the neighbours lightly.

“We are not even taking Bangladesh lightly for tomorrow’s (Tuesday) match as they are a very improved side and have some dangerous players,” Malik said.

Malik said in the T20 format results change in four to five overs and any team were capable of causing an upset.

“In this tournament I feel even 50 to 60 runs are hard to defend in the final five to four overs the standards of competition are high,” he said.

Malik, who captained Pakistan between 2007 and 2009, said he was enjoying his comeback to the national team.

“I am playing well and hitting the ball well so I am pretty confident of doing well in the Super Eights which will pit the strongest teams against each other,” he said.

He pointed out that Pakistan’s bowling was their main strength as it had lot of variety and options.

“Ajmal has been bowling outstandingly well and he is someone who every team is looking at closely.”

Bangladesh, for their part, have not beaten Pakistan in any format since 1999. This brings pressure of their own.

“There’s pressure in every game,” said captain Mushfiqur Rahim. “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 (Tuesday) 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.”