'We have best spinners in the world' - Hafeez
Mohammad Hafeez has predicted Pakistan's spinners can out-bowl their counterparts and make the difference in the forthcoming Test series.
Hafeez, Pakistan's opening batsman and offspinner, said their spin attack has already shown its mettle in the UAE, where conditions are expected to offer little assistance to England's faster bowlers.
"We have the best spinners in the world," he said. "They have done well here in the last few games and the conditions should suit them. The important thing is that we have bowlers who can take 20 wickets. We showed that in the Tests we played last year."
England's spinner Graeme Swann has poked fun at Saeed Ajmal's claim that he has developed a new delivery but Hafeez said he had faced the 'teesra' in the nets and said that Ajmal had produced something "a bit different; a new weapon".
"It will be something new in cricket," Hafeez said. "He has worked on it a lot for the last six to eight months, but not bowled it internationally. It means he has a new weapon and, because of his extraordinary work he has command over it. I don't want to reveal anything; you'll get to see it soon."
Hafeez accepted Pakistan are more familiar with the conditions, but he played down the notion of home advantage. "We have an edge in that we are more familiar with the conditions. We played a tough series against Sri Lanka a few months back and the conditions are favourable, but we'll have to play good cricket."
Since returning to the UAE in November 2010 Pakistan have not lost any of their five Tests. They drew 0-0 with South Africa in their first series back in the region before beating Sri Lanka 1-0 in October 2011.
"Dubai is not in Pakistan," Hafeez said. "You miss your own crowd. When you play in Pakistan the crowds back you all the time. The conditions are totally different. We as a team have done well in the last year-and-a-half and we deserve credit for doing that in neutral venues."
Continuity of selection was a prime reason, he said, why there was an improved spirit within the Pakistan side. "One thing is for sure. When you play as a team your performance gets better and better. We have the plus point that the same six batsmen are playing. We know each other and that is good for partnerships."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo