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March 12, 2014
Pakistan will depart for Bangladesh tomorrow with the exception of Shahid Afridi, who is undergoing a week-long rehabilitation before joining the squad on March 17. Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez is happy that their opening World T20 game on March 21 is a high-pressure one against archrivals India.
"Winning against India will give us a much-needed momentum," Hafeez said. "It's a pressure game wherever you play against them. You have pressure from the media, your nation and when you perform well against them it gets easy for you. It's a very important game for us. As a player, also as a captain, I am very happy that our first match is against India and from there we can take off."
Pakistan, the 2009 World T20 champions and runners up in 2007, are coming off the Asia Cup where they lost in the final to Sri Lanka. Hafeez said it was important to carry forward that momentum.
"You have to be positive in your thinking against all the teams and guard against complacency," he said. "Two things are very important in a big tournament - one is momentum which you have to carry, and we performed well in the Asia Cup. The second is luck and with the prayers of our countrymen, the luck factor will also be with us.
"The approach is clear as we have to play hard cricket and there should be no fear of failure. In short-form cricket you can't recover if you make a mistake, and we will try not to commit mistakes."
Hafeez confirmed that his squad was fully fit, quashing rumours that a few players were carrying injuries. Pakistan last played a T20 in December against Sri Lanka in the UAE but have played ample limited-overs cricket in the lead-up to the World T20.
"We have one week with a couple of warm-up games to tune up the side and everyone is acquainted with the conditions in Bangladesh. Fitness might have been the concern during the Asia Cup but it happens when you play back-to-back matches. Everyone is fine. Afridi's is not that serious and he will be fit. He is going through rehab and as a captain I need a fit Afridi, that's why we have given him time."
Pakistan's major strength is bowling but in the Asia Cup, they managed to take ten wickets only once in five games, against Afghanistan. Hafeez was aware that his strike bowlers Umar Gul and Junaid Khan have suffered a dip in form.
"The performance of the fast bowlers will be key for us because they have to play their roles with both the new and old ball," Hafeez said. "Mohammad Akram (bowling coach) is working hard with both of them in the nets, but in the end it's up to them to go out and deliver. We have to support them."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Umar Farooq
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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