Our bowlers were excellent: Hafeez
Mohammad Hafeez couldn’t have asked for a better start to his first series as captain in India. He did all the right things in the match from selection of the playing XI to calling the toss and then leading the team from the front with a match-winning knock of 61 (44 balls).
The Pakistan T20I captain praised his team for the character they showed in the big game. The captain had special words of praise for his bowlers, who restricted the strong Indian batting line-up to 133/9.
“Mohammad Irfan lived up to the expectations that we had off him. Sohail Tanvir bowled very good three overs during the powerplay. The way Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal bowled in the middle overs was fantastic. As a bowling unit we restricted the Indian team more efficiently than we had hoped for,” Hafeez said after Pakistan’s thrilling five-wicket win with two balls to spare.
While the bowlers did their job impressively, the batsmen got off a disastrous start, losing the first three wickets for 12 runs. The man who was responsible for Pakistan’s top-order collapse was India’s debutant pace bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
However, a 106-run partnership between Hafeez and Shoaib Malik took the team to the threshold of a win. Hafeez said the plan was to see off the pacers and attack the part-time spinners.
“Kumar used the new ball very well and swung it around. After losing quick wickets to him, we thought if we could see the new ball off, we can attack the spinners,” the Pakistan captain said, adding that they were surprised to see India not including specialist spinner, R Ashwin in the team.
“Since Ashwin wasn’t playing, we had in mind that if we see off the new ball, we can dominate the spinners. I know Yuvraj [Singh] is in great form but he and [Ravindra] Jadeja are not world-class spinners and hence we can dominate them. Our plan paid off,” Hafeez explained.
While debutant Kumar emerged as India’s prime bowler, the highlight of Pakistan’s bowling attack was Mohammad Irfan. The Indian batsmen were visibly awkward while handling the 7ft 1in tall fast bowler. Hafeez said that Irfan succeeded in achieving what he was picked for – to surprise the Indian batsmen.
“Irfan made his debut in 2010 and after being dropped, he has worked really hard at the domestic level. When we saw the recent domestic performances of all the fast bowlers in Pakistan, the selectors and I foresaw Irfan as a surprise package.
“His height is his strength. If we give confidence to him, he can be a handy weapon. Yes, his fielding is not too great, but we can manage that if he bowls well. He proved himself today by bowling so well and absorbing the pressure of such big game against India. In him we see a good prospect for the future of Pakistan cricket,” Hafeez said.
While the match had every cricketing ingredient that an India-Pakistan contest deserves – the drama, the fluctuating fortunes, fight backs and a last-over finish – it also didn’t disappoint on the emotional quotient.
The atmosphere around the 22 yards heated up with Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal’s mid-pitch confrontation. Hafeez insisted that those flames died off on the field itself.
“We all understand the sensitivity of this series and we are determined to play good and positive cricket here. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to control your emotions. Ishant and I too had a collision, but ended it by exchanging smiles.
“Kamran too realised what had happened and finished things off cordially with Ishant. We are determined to maintain the spirit of cricket and even if small incidents happen, we want to let them go,” the Pakistan skipper said.