No extra pressure of playing against India in semis

Mohali: Their disastrous past record against India in World Cup notwithstanding, Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez says the team is under no pressure ahead of Wednesday`s high-voltage semi-final clash against the arch-rivals.

Of the previous four meetings against India in the quadrennial extravaganza, Pakistan have lost on all occasions, but Hafeez is optimistic of a turnaround this time around.

According to him, it`s the performance on the given day that counts.

"I don`t think that on me or my team there is any extra pressure in playing against India. For the past 6-7 months, we have been following a simple strategy which is to put our best performance on the (match) day and don`t think about the past," Hafeez said here today.

"We just think about that particular day, and try and win that particular match. So I don`t think we will be under any extra pressure."

Hafeez said bowling was the team`s strength and he is expecting the bowlers to deliver the goods against India.

"Bowling is our major strength and we are heavily relying on our bowlers. At the same time, our batsman complement our attack. I feel that it is not necessarily about big scores, but what it important is that our batsman have the ability to get the required runs," he said.

Reminded about the team`s past World Cup record against India, Hafeez said, "The past is history. Even Australia had not been defeated by anyone for several years in the World Cup before they lost to us and India . As I said, what has happened in the past, we are not thinking about that, but looking to perform on the given day."

The all-rounder, who triggered West Indies` collapse in the quarter-final with two wickets in his first spell and then scored an unbeaten half-century , said the support and unity among team-mates have been crucial to the their success in the ongoing tournament.

"We support each other and enjoy our cricket. I think unity and support for each other have been key to our success in the tournament," he said.

Hafeez also showered praise on skipper Shahid Afridi for the way he backed the players.

"His captaincy has played an important role. He backs and supports his players, which also enables us to give our 110 per cent," he said.

When talks veered around a certain Sachin Tendulkar, who is standing on the cusp of history, Hafeez was all praise for the champion batsman.

"There are no words to describe Sachin. Nothing can describe him. He is a great player and we all admire his achievements. Every player has a scale, and he is at the top of his scale," Hafeez said.

Asked to divulge the team`s strategies against Tendulkar, Hafeez was not forthcoming.

"We have strategies for every players. The captain and the coach have the strategies and we follow their instructions."

Hafeez said the absence of World Cup matches in Pakistan has left his countrymen disappointed, and the team is now trying to prove a point through its performances in the tournament.

"Our people and we as players felt disappointed when the World Cup was pulled out of Pakistan, we are here to play our best cricket and do our best.

"We want to send out a strong and positive message to the world that as a nation we are strong enough and cricket in our country is alive and kicking. God willing international cricket will once again resume in Pakistan," Hafeez told reporters at the Punjab Cricket Stadium (PCA) here.

About Kamran Akmal`s inconsistency behind the stumps, he said the wicketkeeper is a strong character and a match-winner who has the full support of his team and coach.