Pakistan are expected to land in Bangladesh today with the exception of star all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who is undergoing a week-long rehabilitation before he joins his teammates on March 17.
“Beating India will give us a much-needed momentum,” Hafeez said. “It’s a high-pressure match wherever you play against them. There is pressure from the media, your nation and when you play well against them it gets easy for you. It’s a very crucial game for us. As a player, also as the captain, I am delighted that our first game is against India and from there, Insha’Allah we will get a good take off.”
Pakistan will get sufficient time to get acquainted to the conditions and will take on New Zealand on March 17 and South Africa a couple of days later : “We have advantage that where we are going (Bangladesh) we have recently played ODI cricket there. We have a week to get back into Twenty20 mould, expectations should be always positive and we all need to move in one direction,” Hafeez opined.
Pakistan are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition with a nail-biting final against India in the inaugral 2007 World T20, a win in the 2009 edition, and two subsequent semi finals.
Hafeez is not worried that Pakistan haven’t played a T20 game since December and confirms there are no major fitness issues in the team and expects Shahid Afridi to join the team for the high-profile event.
“Afridi’s injury is not that serious and he will be fit. He is undergoing rehab and as a captain I need a fit Afridi, that’s why we have given him time,” said Hafeez of the dashing hitter who injured his groin during a match-turning innings against Bangladesh.
Pakistan’s pace attack have been struggling with form with the team managing to dismiss the opposition only once in the Asia Cup, against Afghanistan. Hafeez said he is well aware that Pakistan’s strike bowlers Junaid Khan and Umar Gul have struggled in recent times.
“The performance of the fast bowlers will be important because they have to perform their roles with both the new and the older ball,” Hafeez said. “Mohammad Akram (Pakistan’s bowling coach) is working hard with both of them in practice, but in the end it’s up to them to go out and deliver. We have to support them.”