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Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
March 29, 2014
A lot has happened since Pakistan's high-octane win over Australia on March 23. India have sealed a semi-final spot with three wins, Australia are all but out, while West Indies have become Pakistan's closest rivals for a place in the last four.
Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan captain, said that all his team was thinking of was winning the next two games. On Sunday, they take on Bangladesh, the home side who have not turned up for their own party after losing to West Indies and India in Group 2.
"The picture is very clear in front of us," Hafeez said on the eve of the match. "We have to win each and every game, but we will take it one at a time. We all know as a team that we can't make any mistakes. We are ready for tomorrow's game. In the last game, we pulled through a tough situation. Everyone showed great character, which helped us cross the line. It is a great sign for the team.
"There will be nothing to do with the net run-rate. We have to win all the way through to the final, there's no second thought about it. We have been positive in our body language."
Pakistan ticked a lot of the boxes in their 16-run win over Australia. Despite losing two early wickets, opening batsman Kamran Akmal added 96 for the third wicket with his younger brother Umar Akmal, who made 94 off 54 balls. Shahid Afridi provided the flourish in the final few overs.
Zulfiqar Babar produced a smart performance with the ball while Umar Gul, Afridi and Saeed Ajmal ensured Pakistan remained in the game. Bilawal Bhatti completed a turnaround with two wickets in the final over of the game, having bowled a 30-run first over.
Hafeez said the team had made good use of the six days in between matches, a combination of hard work and rest. "In the last six days, we worked on our fitness and some small mistakes from the last match. It is getting hot here but everyone has given their 100%. We are gearing up for the crucial stage of the tournament.
"We knew the schedule for a long time. The management planned well for it. We did hard practice, and had enough time to rest. We have been building up our intensity in the last three days."
As it stands, Australia and Bangladesh have slim chances of progressing and the match between Pakistan and West Indies on April 1 could be a knockout game. Before that, however, Pakistan must ensure they don't slip against Bangladesh.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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