COLOMBO: Pakistan Twenty20 team captain Mohammad Hafeez expects that Shahid Afridi will recover from an injury in time to play a decisive role in his country’s attempt to win another ICC Twenty20 world cup.
Afridi is hoping to overcome a thumb injury before the tournament, which runs from September 18 to October 7 in Sri Lanka.
“Shahid Afridi is a big match winner for us and hopefully he will deliver for us once more,” Hafeez told reporters on Wednesday.
Pakistan will open their Group D campaign on September 23, when they meet New Zealand at Pallekele. The third team in their group is Bangladesh.
Hafeez believes that Pakistan is well placed to repeat their 2009 World Twenty20 success, particularly because his players are familiar with Sri Lankan pitches and conditions.
“Pallekele will suit us because the ball does a lot there, the seamers will benefit and we should do well. We have a good bowling unit with Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Sami and Sohail Tanvir, who is difficult to deal with his unusual action,” Hafeez said.
The Pakistani skipper further revealed that the reason Pakistan Cricket Board had allowed Pakistani cricketers to go to Sri Lanka and play in the SLPL (Sri Lanka Premier League) was to get used to the conditions, especially in Pallekele and Colombo.
“Javed will share with us some valuable inputs and it’s a good thing. Whatever he tells us, we look forward to it,” said Hafeez about Javed Miandad’s appointment as Pakistan’s batting coach.
Meanwhile, Mahendera Singh Dhoni, the India captain, has welcomed the return to action of Yuvraj Singh after his treatment for a malignant lung tumour.
“He is a champion player, a match winner and he also helps me get the kind of balance in the side especially in a T20 format,” Dhoni said.
Yuvraj played in India’s one-run defeat to New Zealand in a T20 international in Chennai on Tuesday.
“We don’t really play with the fifth bowler and we don’t have a genuine all-rounder, so part-timers like Yuvraj, (Virat) Kohli, (Suresh) Raina and Rohit (Sharma) are very useful in T20 cricket.” Dhoni added.
India will begin their World Twenty20 campaign on September 19, when they take on Afghanistan in Colombo in a Group A match.