New Zealand v Pakistan, World T20 2012, Group D, Pallekele September 22, 2012

Pakistan feel confident in T20s - Hafeez

Pakistan have enjoyed success in the shortest format as their players play with freedom, says the captain

"Sweep kaenu maar riya hai? Outside off stump ball thi (Why are you sweeping? The ball was outside off stump)," Mohammad Hafeez, the bowler, told Sohail Tanvir, the batsman, during Pakistan's practice session at the Pallekele stadium ahead of their opening game against New Zealand. The emphasis was on playing more orthodox strokes. Hafeez, the captain, had earlier been asked whether Twenty20 was the sort of cricket jo na tameez se kheli jaati hai, naa tameez se dekhi (neither played nor watched properly - a line from a popular TV advert). He chuckled but explained that the prevalent notion of T20 being a hit-and-miss game no longer counts.

"At the stage where T20 is today, it is not as if you don't have to work hard for it," Hafeez said. "You have to plan a lot of things. Technically, a lot of advancements have come into the format and you have to accordingly prepare yourself. You have to play this format with a lot of awareness now."

There is something about Pakistan and T20 cricket. They have made it to the knockouts of all three editions of the tournament, winning it in 2009. Hafeez said the format allowed the players more freedom. "Pakistan play freely and express themselves in this format. That does not mean we don't express ourselves in Tests and ODIs but T20 frees up you up a bit more to go in and execute your skills. As a team we feel more confident when we get to the T20s."

Throughout the press conference, Hafeez stressed the importance of Pakistan winning the recent T20I series against Australia in the UAE and how that had helped them achieve their preparation goals for the global event. "The team's desire was to win the series against Australia, everyone worked hard for it. We had decided that we would bring in a very positive momentum with us to this tournament. We have done that. Our intention was to give all the players a chance before the mega event, which we did. At the moment, we have achieved what we wanted to in the lead-up to this event.

"Another positive sign was the way we chased so well against India [in their first warm-up game]. All the boys are positive, well-prepared and fit."

The conditions in Pallekele, where Pakistan will play their group games against New Zealand and Bangladesh, have favoured fast bowlers with some movement and carry. Pakistan have played a few games at the venue and Hafeez said they had the attack to do well here. "We don't rely just on our spinners. We have excellent fast bowlers. The conditions here assist the seamers, there is some bounce as well and it swings too. We have played in these conditions before. We had come here for the SLPL too. All of us have played against New Zealand before. This is a plus point for us that we have faced their bowling before."

Hafeez said having watched both Bangladesh and New Zealand during the group's opening game on Friday would help Pakistan plan better but admitted they needed to improve their batting. "As a batting unit we really have to work hard not only in this tournament but overall. We know we have to take the responsibilities. We have seen that with some players, they have shown great character. Kamran Akmal is one of them. He is in good form. Everybody has to play their roles to win a game for Pakistan."

The next ball after trying the sweep, Tanvir lofted gracefully over extra cover. "That's more like it," a satisfied Hafeez said. Now for the entire line-up to follow the captain's cue tomorrow against New Zealand.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shaikh on September 23, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    If pakistan bats to their ability this should be one sided affair.Hopes d best fr d team green.ALL THE BEST

  • A on September 23, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    Taylor's innings in the world cup was an absolute classic blitz. One of the top 5 ODI innings for me in the past 5 to 6 years. Really high calibre, and the way he waited before the blitz. Top stuff. The '92 semi-final between these two sides has widely gone down as one of the 5 best ODI's of all time. One of the best games bar none. Both sides really played well. Good to see some classic encounters between these two sides. It would be nice to see a fun rivalry rekindle. I remember some amazing tests back in the day when Hadlee and Imran's teams met.

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    We should all remember what Taylor did to Pak bowling in 2011 WC, which basically ended Shoib Akhtar's career. We have take our catches...

  • Hawks on September 23, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    The 4 teams that will make to the semis are 1. South Africa 2. Pakistan 3. England 4. Australia......Mark my words!!! My money is on either Aus or Pak!!! Bother are giants and giant-killers at the same time!!!

  • Maqbool on September 23, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    Shahid Afridi is now burden. mr captain don`t such mistake to enlist him in 11. there are youngesters in your team enjoy playing as you have enjoyed the 2nd T20 against Australia. Had Afridi there you might have lost the game.What he did against India in Warm Up match.Don`t make such aaaaaaaaaaaaa biggggggggggggggg mistake

  • Muhammad Ammar on September 23, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Give a senior-junior combination during batting, with in form out of form order. The out of form should always take singles and bring the inform to attack. Seniors try to stay as much on the wicket as possible, while helping juniors to make the attacking shots. Believe me no body loses 10 wickets in 20 overs, so try just hard. Remember SA winning against SL in 7-Overs combat just because they didn't care about wickets, and just tried to hit. Similar was the case of rain affected match or Aus-WI. Bowling tactics are fine so far.

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    Wishing better of luck to all Pakistani team members....May Allah help them in their campaign to start with a win.......

    Good Luck to Afridi , Nazir and Razzaq

  • Adnan Rashid on September 23, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    If pak batting line up is going to click up to their abilities,then it would really be a hard day for kiwies.Imran Nazeer should blitz in this important game.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    We should move Afridi and Kamran up the order, and lower order should be handled by Abdur Razzaq and Umar. Best of Luck guys!

  • A on September 22, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    Really hoping that Nazir delivers. He is a quality batsman with some of the sharpest reflexes and most ruthless cuts and pulls in the game. Really concerned about Afridi's form. He has to deliver if Pakistan is to win this tournament because, otherwise he is a massive liability in the side. His larger than life persona can bring down the morale of the younger guys if he is not in-form. When he is in form ofcourse everybody feels it, the energy levels increase, everybody looks sharper, more aggressive, fielders restrict twos to ones, dive around, hold on to catches, run for their lives between wickets. That is what a charismatic talisman can do for a team. Everyone accepts he has that ability, but if he hasn't brought that to the field, we're going to have a problem. I would rest him if he can't pull his weight in the first game, its a gamble but the pressure on the others to deliver will bring out the best in them. We did well against the aussies without Afridi.

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