The Telegraph
Friday , March 21 , 2014
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Afridi’s form a good sign: Hafeez

Shahid Afridi, in Mirpur, on Thursday

Dhaka: Mohammed Hafeez isn’t reading much into the fact that they have never defeated India in a World Cup match, and is pinning hopes on another good performance from Shahid Afridi.

“Afridi is in good form and we have seen that in the Asia Cup recently… It is a good sign for us because we always wanted him to bat lower down the order and finish the game well for Pakistan. It is always great to know that he is in good nick and a good frame of mind. It is always great when your senior players are always looking forward to the challenges,” said Pakistan’s T20 captain.

Hafeez said all the players were waiting to put up a good show and break the World Cup jinx.

“We have been waiting for this moment… As I mentioned in my earlier press conference, all the players are looking forward to this match… We are happy that the first game is against India and we want to put up a good show in this tournament.”

“As far as history is concerned, we don’t really look into it. We know that every day will give you an opportunity to do well… We as a team always look forward to the next day… So whatever happens good or bad is always history and that will not count. We always want to perform well against any team.”

Hafeez also feels that having all-rounders like Afridi and veteran Shoaib Malik will help them a lot. “As far as the all-rounder edge is concerned, yes we do believe that we have good all-rounders like Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, myself… Hopefully that will help us.”

He felt the Asia Cup experience will help. “Yes it will definitely help us… We were here for the Asia Cup, and so the boys know the conditions very well and that is going to really help the team.

Mohammed Hafeez

“At the same time, the Indian team has also got similar sort of experience having played here. So both teams have got the experience in these conditions and everyone has to play well to win the game.”

Hafeez said they were aware of India’s strengths. “India has a good batting side ... Stats can only help you, but on a given day, you have to work hard and stick to your plans… I think we have targeted some areas, and hopefully, the boys will give their best tomorrow.”

The captain also agreed with Zaheer Abbas’ opinion that expectations were high.

“It is always great to know about the expectations of the people and the fans around the world. We are considering only one game at a time… We want to put up a good show in the whole tournament, and yes the first game is always important… Doing well in that game helps you get the momentum… Hopefully, the boys will do well to get the best results for Pakistan.”

Hafeez was ecstatic about how Umar Gul has worked on his fitness and was looking sharp as ever.

“It has been an outstanding comeback by Umar Gul. He has done a lot of hard work to get his rhythm back. He is our No. 1 pacer.”

Hafeez is confident that youngsters such as Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal will play for Pakistan for a long time as they have the talent to be consistently successful.

“Umar and Shehzad have played a lot of cricket together from the U-19 days. There are four five boys who are really talented. There’s Umar Amin, Sohaib Maqsood who are also very talented and will only get better day by day.”