The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 25 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hafeez pins hopes on Ajmal

Bangalore: Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez feels his bowlers have to deliver if they want to stop India’s strong batting line-up from piling up big totals.

“The Indian batting has a reputation of its own. But winning or losing does not depend only on batting. Bowling will also have a major role. So it will be important that our bowlers deliver to counter the strong Indian batting line-up," Hafeez said at a pre-match press conference.

The Pakistan captain is banking on Saeed Ajmal to come good on Tuesday.

“Saeed Ajmal is bowling very well at the moment and getting the results for Pakistan. We want him to stay at his peak. We don't want to put too much pressure on him. At the same time, other bowlers also have to do and take wickets to give confidence to him,” he said.

Of late, Shahid Afridi has run into poor form. Hafeez sounded confident that the all-rounder will regain his form in the series.

“I being the captain, would love to see good performance from him. He is an important player for us and is a match winner. I’m hopeful that he will hit the right form with both and ball.”

Hafeez also hinted a change in their batting order. Umar Akmal, who comes in at No. 5 or 6, might be pushed up. “We want him to express himself. He has got plenty of talent. So, we want him to bat early so that he can exploit the Indian bowlers’ weaknesses.”

On the Pakistan team’s inexperienced look, Hafeez said the selectors wanted to give opportunities to youngsters.

“It will be a good experience for them in India because the crowds are always good. So the pressure is always there, but you have to handle it. Our team is a mix of both experience and youth. We have Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal... It is a good blend of experience and youth," he said.

Asked whether he feels the pressure to handle two former captains in form of Shoaib and Afridi, Hafeez said: “It is a blessing to have them in the squad. They are very co-operative and they are always there to guide me. They are like elder brothers for me.”

An India-Pakistan match is always tense. Hafeez said his side is well-groomed to handle pressure: “All international matches have an element of pressure, and players have to soak it up because expectations are high. We will try our level best to play without pressure,” he said.

Hafeez thanked the governments of both the countries and the PCB and BCCI brass for reviving the bilateral series. “Our efforts will be to remain positive. For the betterment of cricket, there has to be more bilateral series between the two countries. Because the whole world follows the game between the two subcontinent countries,” he said.