Hafeez banks on Pakistan's T20 experience
Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan Twenty20 captain, has said that experienced Twenty20 players, Pakistan's past record in the World Twenty20, and familiarity with Sri Lankan conditions give his side confidence ahead of the upcoming world event.
"Winning the World Cup is always something special for the nation," Hafeez said after arrival in Colombo. "We have done it two times earlier and this time we've got a good chance and have a good team. We have also got good momentum after winning the [Twenty20 international] series against Australia [in the UAE] and that has boosted the morale of the team."
Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, won the 2009 edition in England and were semi-finalists in West Indies in the 2010 event. "We have done a great job in the last three T20 tournaments," Hafeez said. "We have been very successful in the event. We really want to ensure that we should not be complacent.
"We have a good team with some of our players having played a lot of T20 cricket. Shahid Afridi is one those along with Yasir Arafat, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir. We've got good specialists in the team and have a combination that can do really well in these conditions in the mega event."
Afridi is recovering from a finger injury that kept him out of the T20Is against Australia and Hafeez said he was looking forward to the allrounder's return. "He is one of the experienced lads in our side. He is a match-winner for us since the past 15 years. He has ample experience to come out and perform on any day. He is in good shape and feeling confident."
Pakistan are used to Sri Lankan conditions, having visited the country in June for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is. Several members of the side's World Twenty20 squad also played in the recent Sri Lanka Premier League.
"We have been allowed by the PCB to play in the SLPL mainly because they wanted us to get used to the conditions. Most of us have played here before and [also] the recent series win [against Australia] gives us the confidence that we can do something special."
Pakistan are in Group D in the World Twenty20 along with New Zealand and Bangladesh and will play their group matches in Pallekele. Hafeez said his attack has the variety to suit the conditions.
"We know that the Pallekele pitch is suited for fast bowlers and we are prepared to execute with the mix we have got. We have good seamers and spinners."
Pakistan will begin their campaign against New Zealand on September 23. Hafeez said they could not afford to take any team lightly. "Any team can make a difference even in one over. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe might not be very good Test sides but in T20s they have performed well. New Zealand are dangerous on any day and so are Bangladesh. I am wary of the pressure of the first round and the boys are ready for the challenge."
Hafeez insisted that fielding always creates a difference in this format. "T20 demands a lot of energy and we have seen the team doing well in fielding winning more matches," Hafeez said. "We are working very hard to bring more energy in the field. The boys have taken most of the catches in the recent series against Australia and we are looking forward to an improved show in the field."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent