Warm-up win against India, a morale booster: Hafeez

Colombo: Gearing up for the high-voltage clash against arch-rivals India, Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez said his team has the edge going into tomorrow’s World T20 Super Eight game after the morale-boosting win over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men in a warm-up match.

“Everyone is looking forward to the India match. Since we have won against them in the warm-up game, it will give us confidence going into the match. That victory has been a real morale booster for us and the boys are upbeat and raring to go against India,” Hafeez told mediapersons on the eve of the game.

Predictably, the Pakistan skipper ruled out the pressure factor after having won a high-intensity game against South Africa yesterday.

“The boys have showed a lot of character against South Africa. It’s always nice to start with a win and I am happy in the manner they responded under pressure situations. For us, the match against India is like another game. We have played them a lot in the past and that pressure is not there anymore.”

Hafeez, however, didn’t divulge his plans for the Indian line-up.
“Obviously, we have to take into account, the conditions and then we will decide on the playing XI. Today, we played three specialist spinners and by the Grace of God, the plan worked. But we can decide on the combination of the next match only when we have a look at the pitch,” Hafeez said.

Questions were raised about the performance of Shahid Afridi whose irresponsible shot during yesterday’s match nearly brought about his team’s downfall.

“For us, Afridi’s, mere presence lifts the spirit of the team. He is a match-winner in his own rights. That’s also the case with Shoaib Malik. If I haven’t given Malik a bowl, it’s because the situation has demanded so. When I will require him to bowl, he will. It is not that we are ignoring any of the players.”

Team spirit has been a word that was oft-repeated by Hafeez and also by man-of-the-match Umar Gul.

When a scribe asked whether Gul was intimated that he would be introduced into the attack in the 18th over, he answered, “No, I was not but the decision was taken in the best interests of the team. I have told the skipper that whenever you want me to bowl, just tell me and I am ready.”