ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Hafeez confident of better openings

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 7, 2011

Comments: 83 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Hafeez makes his way to the team bus as Pakistan head for a training session, Colombo, February 24, 2011
Mohammad Hafeez, and his opening partner Ahmed Shehzad, have not had a substantial partnership in this World Cup © AFP
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Players/Officials: Mohammad Hafeez
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Pakistan

Three matches in and murmurs over Pakistan's opening combination are increasing. Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad have put on 11, 28 and 16 against Kenya, Sri Lanka and Canada but on two occasions the middle order has bailed the side out. There is no move from the team management to change things just yet - in fact there is a commendable rigidity to stick, as much as possible, to the same winning XI - but the need for a substantial stand is growing.

Hafeez has looked the more fluent of the two, particularly in his 32 against Sri Lanka, where a disastrous run-out ended a promising knock. The surfaces they have come across, while good for batting, have been more competitive than some seen in the World Cup and that Hafeez concluded has also played a part.

"When you assess the pitch as an opener, you have to plan out what it would be like, and both pitches at Hambantota and at the Premadasa had a lot of movement and swing," Hafeez said in Pallekele, a day before his side's game with New Zealand. "We need some time to build a good partnership but you get one good delivery or a decision goes against you, which are a part of the game, and you have to take it positively. Here there has been some lateral movement with the new ball and swing as well."

Hafeez's return to the ODI set-up in the last English summer has brought Pakistan a sense of stability at the top, though his most productive partnership has been with Kamran Akmal, now batting at one down. Hafeez averages nearly 33 in 19 ODIs since, with a hundred - in New Zealand - and three fifties. The figures don't look outstanding, but he has chipped in otherwise, with wickets (13) and a safe presence in the field.

"In the three series against England, South Africa and New Zealand I think I've been consistent," Hafeez said. "It's only that I haven't performed in three World Cup matches. In one match I got run out and in another I got a bad decision. To perform in cricket you need luck other than your own potential as well sometimes."

A good start also gives Pakistan greater flexibility in their batting order. Because the openers have not so far come off, Pakistan has stuck with bringing Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq together behind Kamran Akmal, in order to insure against a collapse. But there are indications within the camp that if the openers provide a substantial, pacy start, Abdul Razzaq or even Shahid Afridi could be pushed up the order, as high as one-down.

Having scored his first and only ODI hundred against tomorrow's opponents in the series in January, a change of results, Hafeez believes, is due. "As an opener I know we have not given good starts to the team, but there's no lack of confidence. We just need one good partnership to get back the confidence. We handled New Zealand's bowling very well [in New Zealand], I also scored a century against them so the confidence is very high."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 83 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 22:21 GMT)

mohammad hafeez u r 2 good

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 8, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

CricIndia208: You could say we are "lucky" if we beat only Kenya, Canada and Zimbabwe and entered the QFs. Since we've beaten Srilanka, a tournament favourite, its not luck that has made us eligible already for the QFs. As for being knocked out there, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. @Joji_: well said. If people have nothing positive to say they should remain silent. Just in case these comments get round to our team, we want them to know we support them come what may. And if they never find out, theres no point in this criticism anyway. @x___Ace___x/Elias77: Yes!!!! People need to stop backing Shoaib Malik. He is a politician and he is why Younis was fired as captain. We should never play him again. Compare him to the down-to-earth Misbah who ignored the golden opportunity for creating cliques. Malik1975: Don't digress. Malik is thankfully NOT in the squad. @those making suggestions: I THINK Afridi and Waqar have the better credentials for these decisions than us.

Posted by dilip on (March 8, 2011, 8:20 GMT)

pakistan are picking up steam they have to keep going for 22 days more, hence they need to keep an united team and improve their fielding.

Posted by Huzaifa on (March 8, 2011, 7:16 GMT)


Posted by Mir on (March 8, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

No matter how you people play, at least play your role in Pakistan's win....!!

Posted by awais on (March 7, 2011, 23:24 GMT)

@CricIndia208 .. india vs england still hurts i guess???? otherwise u'd think twice before making such kinda comment about the only team winning all their matches so far including a victory against a host and most favourite team , and a team who defended 180 successfully. if u complain about a group being strong where 4 out of 7 teams will qualify for next round and if u cant defend a total of 335, u probably dont deserve to b in a world cup :) but i m not blind like u so i'll say india is still favourite to win the cup, slightly less then pakistan though :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 7, 2011, 23:10 GMT)

if 20-30 runs are to be scored with the opening partnership, why not send Akhtar & Ajmal they might provide a better stand...:P

Posted by abdul on (March 7, 2011, 22:45 GMT)

shehzad out, shafiq in!!!!!!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 7, 2011, 20:24 GMT)

Mr CHoudary, the lineup at 1,2 and 3 is just inviting disaster. With the ball having sideways movement at the start, Razzaq and Afridi are not a good choice. I would personally go for, Akmal and Hafeez to open. If the start is good, then bring in Umar Akmal at one down, otherwise Younis. Shehzad can be used at 4 or 5 down like Imran used Inzimam in 1992 World Cup, when Inzi was failing at the top because of the movement.

Posted by S on (March 7, 2011, 18:31 GMT)

Pakistan should open with Abdul Razzaq and Muhammad Hafeez.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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