Hafeez backs young openers to fire
Pakistan’s five-wicket win in the first T20I was a result of their ability to fight back after being jolted. They restricted India to 133 for 9 despite a 77-run opening stand in 11 overs and chased down the total after being reduced to 12 for 3.
Skipper, Mohammad Hafeez is confident his team can produce an encore in Ahmedabad to take the series 2-0.
“We know that this is a great opportunity for us to win a series in India and we’re all ready for it,” Hafeez said on the eve of the second T20I. “After the last win our morale is very high. The way we made a comeback in bowling and batting was very heartening.
“The team’s energy level in the field was very high throughout the innings. As captain I was very pleased to see that and we will try to continue that,” the Pakistan captain said.
While the 106-run fourth wicket stand between Hafeez and Shoaib Malik took Pakistan home after the bowlers did their job to perfection, the concern is the lack of runs from the openers. Despite their inexperience, Hafeez puts his money on the young opening pair of Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad.
“All the players cannot perform every day,” the skipper said in his openers’ defence. “They’re very good players and they have shown that in the past. We have full faith in them. We believe that they will forget the last game and come out positively for tomorrow’s match.”
Hafeeez, who is an opening batsmen himself, said that he decided to drop himself down in the order so that the young talent can be groomed for the future.
“I am an opener myself but for this series I decided to give the young batsmen a chance because I truly believe they have it in them to serve Pakistan cricket for a long time.
They’re openers and we wanted to give them a chance to do what they’re comfortable doing. We believe that a player should play in the position where he has performed in the past in order to get the best out of his abilities,” he said.
Hafeez was also quizzed on why someone like Shahid Afridi, who is capable of setting up the game with his lusty blows at the top, has been dropped in the middle order, Hafeez revealed Afridi and the team felt his role as a finisher was more crucial.
“Shahid feels more comfortable in the middle-order and even when he was the captain he batted there. We can use Afridi anywhere in the order but we believe he can be extremely good in the middle-order when it comes to finishing the games.
“He’s very good in situations when we need to create that extra pressure with the bat in the last five-seven overs,” Hafeez said.