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Hafeez: Captains must give their players confidence...

- PAK CAPTAIN IN AN INFORMAL CONVERSATION WITH THE TELEGRAPH

Ahmedabad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a reputation for being cool, but in much the same bracket is Pakistan’s T20 captain Mohammed Hafeez.

The 32-year-old Hafeez has had a chequered career, but is now a regular in all three formats. Some, in fact, feel that he should be Pakistan’s only captain.

Hafeez, by the way, had been in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ squad in the IPL’s inaugural season — 2008.

On Wednesday evening, Hafeez informally spoke to The Telegraph at the Courtyard by Marriott.

The following are excerpts

His approach as captain...

Simple... I have to carry everybody with me, for we’re all playing for Pakistan. I’ve given the players freedom to express themselves. As I’ve told you earlier, main khud tension nahin leta.

Having assigned a clear role to every player...

Yes... Each player has a defined role... They know where they stand and they know what’s expected of them... Our communication is good.

His approach being praised by the likes of former captain Ramiz Raja...

Nice to know that.

Giving confidence to his players...

That’s important... Usually, the players are concerned about form and selection... I’ve told them that, for a period, irrespective of form, they’ll get my full backing... Personally, I’m not in favour of chopping and changing... But, after a while, everybody has to deliver... He can’t be a passenger... Captains must give their players confidence and, in turn, the players have to justify the faith the captain, coach and the selectors have in them. It’s a two-way street.

Having himself been in and out of the team at one stage in his career...

Some are lucky, but I didn’t have a smooth ride... Even I used to feel insecure and, let me tell you, that’s not a nice feeling... By the grace of God, the last couple of years have been good. I’ve worked hard and have been rewarded. Aasani se mera career nahin bana.

Leading from the front in the first T20 International, in Bangalore...

By the grace of God, things worked out well... More than what I did, I’m happy with what my players did. They’ve come to India with a purpose... They’re focused.

His message to his team...

That everybody has to shoulder responsibility... It shouldn’t be left to one or two players to perform... It’s so much easier when responsibility is shared.

Being successful...

Success, at least in cricket, is driven by good players. It’s always about the team, not individuals.

Handling pressure...

But pressure is what you take upon yourself. Main pressure nahin leta.

Having former captains Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi in his T20 team...

It’s an advantage and they’re very helpful.

Role model captains...

Steve Waugh, Imran Khan... I admired Steve for his calmness... As for Imran, we all know the kind of leader he was.

If he spoke to Imran before leaving for India...

I wanted to, but didn’t get the opportunity. Aap to jaante hain, Imran’s extremely busy with the activities of his political party.

Finally, the India tour being an opportunity for him to grow, as a captain and as a player...

Of course, I realise this is a huge opportunity. It’s big for all of us... Any series against India provides such a huge platform and is an opportunity to be noticed.

Footnote: “We’ll be praying for her soul,” Pakistan’s manager Naveed Akram Cheema told The Telegraph on Thursday evening. The ‘her’ being former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated five years ago. Because of that anniversary, the T20 International here got put off by a day, to Friday.