Pakistan news February 19, 2014

Babar could make an impact at WT20 - Hafeez


Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar could be Pakistan's surprise package at the World T20, much like Raza Hasan was in the previous edition of the tournament, according to Mohammad Hafeez. While ruing the absence of left-arm seamer Mohammad Irfan, Hafeez, the T20 captain, insisted that the combination selected was "world-class", and named Babar and opening batsman Sharjeel Khan as players to watch out for.

Irfan, who last played against South Africa in the UAE, has since been on rest to recover from a hip injury, which he once again aggravated last week during a domestic T20 match in Rawalpindi. Had he remained fit, he was an automatic selection.

"We can still make an impact, and this impact could be in the shape of Zulfiqar Babar," Hafeez said. "Sharjeel Khan is another, and his explosive attitude could benefit the team. Irfan will be missed because his first two overs could have been lethal, but it's an opportunity for others to come and make an impact.

"If you see we have a very good combination for the conditions, if you look at World Twenty20. We have world-class spinners in Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqar Babar, and along with this experience, we have youth in the form of [Mohammad] Talha and Bilawal Bhatti. Irfan is an impact bowler, there's no doubt about it, but unfortunately he couldn't recover."

The World T20 will be Hafeez's second as Pakistan captain. In 2012 he led the side into the semi-finals, where they lost to Sri Lanka by 16 runs. In the last two years, Hafeez has been pushing for a younger team, but both of his World T20 squads have included a couple of older names. Imran Nazir and Abdul Razzaq were picked in 2012; this time, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal have been recalled.

Hafeez justified their selection. "Yes, I have always encouraged youngsters but unfortunately the players we have relied on haven't performed in the recent past," he said. "The selectors thought it's a big event and you need experience so I think that's why they included Kamran Akmal and I wish him all the luck."

Pakistan are currently preparing for the Asia Cup, with three training sessions every day at the Gaddafi Stadium and the National Cricket Academy. Hafeez, the vice captain of the ODI team, said being defending champions has given the players a lot of confidence.

"You can't say we are the hot favourites for the event but we are taking the confidence that we are defending champions," he said. "You can't take anyone easy; you have to play good cricket to get good results. India is a good team. When we went there we beat them last year; we always try to bring good results against them and this time too we will try to bring good results."

Reacting to coach Moin Khan's remarks about the fear of failure in the team, Hafeez said it came with insecurity. "It comes when you feel insecure but when the management ensures that you will get maximum opportunity you obviously give your best and express yourself [without any fear]."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    advice for pak batting: making 180-200 per game easily divide game into two: 1-10 and 11-20 1-10: openers should not be looking bondires to every ball. bc every team's best bowlers start with new ball. and it is the main point where pak batters goes for boundries and doent take wickets intake.. just rotae the strike and have an occasional boudry,, as u can se,, 101110 140011, but if u goes like this, 400400, you will be 90-5 after 10 overs,, so be cool and calm.. so try to have 70-75 runs in 1st ten, 2nd ten: if you go bang bang bang, wickets will fall, try to play like this 122141 there is no risk in that and u will easily have 11-12 runs an 11-15overs, and in last 5 overs go boom boom with sixers,, and doesnt mind falling wicket. 161462, 16-20 in last 5 overs, the main thing in batting is that ball which doesnt deserve boundary, we should not try to send it, and try to take 1, so simple, total of 70-80+50-60+60-70=180-210 (best of luck)

  • Nishlan on February 21, 2014, 5:32 GMT

    I think this may be the Last world T20 for Shahid Afridi So send him as a opener then u will defiantly find a huge total :

    Shehzad, Afrid, K Akmal, Malik, Hafeez, U Akmal, Bhatti, Babar, Gul, Ajma, Junaid According to their Prof om you can change with Sharjeel.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    Imran Nazir should be in the squad. . . .

  • Jawwad on February 20, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    @Stark62 - Spot On! Irfan was absolutely unnecessarily played in matches when the Management should have been looking toward grooming the likes of Anwar, Bhatti and whoever else is a prospect.

  • Stark on February 20, 2014, 14:11 GMT

    He is speaking, as if the whole year is jam packed!!

    Truth be told, everyone knew Irfan was going to break down and the fact, that he was played in dead rubbers and meaningless games, didn't help his body, so blame the captain(s), coaches and the management, not "rotation policy needed" excuse.

    Also, who is going to be rotated in? Wahab, Sami, Cheema?

  • Aftab on February 20, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Sharjeel, Shehzad, Hafeez, U Akmal, Maqsood, K Akmal, Afridi, Bhatti, Gul, Ajmal, Junaid. This team would have good balance i've only included K Akmal as it would free Umar Akmal to play as a batsman with no keeping pressure and therefore help balance the team.

  • Hameed on February 20, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    Akmal brothers should not play because there is something unknown they have caused lots of matches slip out of hand from winning position. Saqlain Hyder what is his story he was the lone fighter against England and decent wicketkeeper. After that he was thrown out of Pak cricket.One or two from U19 must be introduced in Asia cup or I think it is crime not to pick up the best performer from U19. Sami Aslam and Imamul Haq could be solid. The one I liked was Imran Nazir but he should bat at 7 and to be told Go boy world is yours, do your thing like Afridi and turn the game around. Hafeez must play at number 5 not as opener. Misbah should beat 6 and Afridi at 8. Do as I say or you would suffer. Mohsin Khan should always be part of management or motivator.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    Big event like asia cup, its a big opportunity for sherjeel khan to show his talent by making his 1st century against INDIA. By giving the opportunity to Zulfafqar babar is a possitive step, by giving the chance to Kamran Akmal is a awkword step by Selectors. Anyway we should pray for team to defend asia cup and Win T20 WC For Pakistan. GOOD LUCK TEAM PAKISTAN

  • Hameed on February 20, 2014, 11:11 GMT

    Moin Khan Fear of failure is absolutely no option, only option should be given to Pakistan that they have to win . And to win they have to do also best fielding and dont give any extras, bad fielding and extars are the main difference in winning and losing. As far twenty overs go, 20 over is very short game and almost all teams have same level batting and bowling. However in Asia cup Pakistan has superior bowling unit, for Pakistan fielding and saving runs would wins the matches. Pakistan has weakness in fielding while India and Sri Lanka both have great fielding unit. Pakistan should also practice in small covered l hall, one fifth the size of a stadium and see how quick are the fielders and develop .techniques of saving runs and at the same time deliberate and cunning misfield technique to cause batsmen to think they can take extra run and get them run out.. Let them fight among themselves to demoralize each other. There should 3 run outs at least and two stumps in T201

  • ali on February 20, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    FOR GODS SAKE.. you are bringing in a 36 year old spinner... he has passed his prime... what has happened to the selection committee.. oh lord please forgive their sins they have committed in the name of cricket.

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