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‘Ready to go for the kill’

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in Ahmedabad, on Thursday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh

Ahmedabad: Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez feels that their ability to perform under pressure has helped them to win the first T20 match.

According to Hafeez, if the players can show the same intent on the field on Friday, they can win the two-match T20 series.

“The way the team bounced back in both batting and bowling was amazing. The boys showed a lot of character. Bangalore win gave us a lot of confidence and our morale is high. Actually, the boys were able to enjoy the pressure and that’s the reason behind such a great performance. We will try to continue that tomorrow as well,” Hafeez told a media conference on Thursday.

About his side’s preparation for Friday’s match, Hafeez said: “We are ready to go for the kill. We have the opportunity to win the series. And we don’t want to lose the chance. Not just tomorrow’s match, we are positive about the entire series. We are playing good cricket and we want to perform as a unit.”

For Pakistan, the bowlers have really delivered. And Hafeez expects them to perform in the same vein on Friday.

“I will give credit to the bowlers and fielders for our win in the first match. They (India) were 70 for no loss and after that we came back. Bowling has always been our strength… In Bangalore, the comeback was outstanding.

“We always believe that as a bowling unit, we can always come back. We have got enough experience. We can dominate with our bowling. As a captain I am very pleased with their performance. Hopefully, they will deliver tomorrow also,” he said.

Hafeez said that Shoaib Malik’s return to form is welcome news for them. “Most of the players have proved at the international level that they are match winners. Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul... Shoaib Malik was going through a lean patch. But I’m glad that he has rediscovered his form.”

However, Pakistan’s top-order does not seem to be in top form. So is it a concern? “No. It’s not possible for a player to deliver every day. They are very good players. They have shown that in the past… We have faith in them… The good thing for us is that we made a comeback in bowling as well as batting. We believe in their abilities and they are good players to perform anywhere in the world. We hope that they forget their innings at Bangalore and come to this match with positive intent and do well for us.”

Hafeez also ruled out a change in the top-order, saying that it was a planned decision to open with Ahmed Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed.

“We believe that we have a lot of talent and the new guys are playing well. That is why we are promoting youngsters to bat at the top order, considering the future of our cricket.

“Being an opener myself, I have given the opportunity to the youngsters in this series, because they have the talent to serve Pakistan cricket for many years. Since they are openers, we want them to get the chance as openers only. It is not that they are not experienced enough. They have been with us for the last four years. We are sure they will come up with some positive results for Pakistan in future.”

Asked whether there is a possibility of pushing Afridi up the order, Hafeez said: “Afridi has adjusted himself as a middle-order batsman… Even when he was the captain, he preferred to play in the middle-order. He can finish the match or put pressure on the opposition in the last seven overs. But, with his talent, he can bat at any number.”