Pakistan take on Bangladesh in the last group match of the 2012 World Twenty20 tonight, needing to avoid a heavy defeat in order to progress and take on South Africa, Australia and India in the Super Eights.
The 2009 champions survived a minor late scare against New Zealand before registering a 13-run triumph on Sunday and now have a chance to fine-tune their skills as the next round approaches. While Mohammad Hafeez should have few worries and called himself blessed for having variety in his bowling attack, one bother will be picking pace support to Umar Gul. Yasir Arafat was given just one over against New Zealand, while all-rounder Abdul Razzaq has been off-colour as well. However, Hafeez was not concerned, adding that there were plenty of options.
“What else can you want when you have such variety in your bowling attack,” said Hafeez. “As a captain, it is a blessing. This is something I am very pleased to have that I have so many options in bowling and whenever I throw the ball to any of my bowlers he is ready to bowl.”
Hafeez, however, said Bangladesh will not be taken lightly.
“We’re not thinking that we have qualified, we have to win against Bangladesh. They have lost their first match so they will come down hard on us.”
Wasim backs Razzaq
Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram backed Razzaq for a spot in the playing-eleven.
“Razzaq can be very useful with the bat,” said Wasim. “He’s a clean hitter of the ball and the management should consider him. The win against a major side in the first match was very important and it has boosted the players’ morale.”
‘Pakistan not unbeatable’
Meanwhile, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said feedback from former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq will help counter Ajmal in their do-or-die clash.
Bangladesh need a big win to advance but Ajmal’s danger looms large after the off-spinner took four for 30 in the win over New Zealand.
Saqlain regarded as the inventor of ‘doosra’ – off-spinner’s stock delivery which turns the other way and is mastered by Ajmal – is currently serving as Bangladesh’s bowling coach.
“Ajmal is a world class bowler but we have taken help from Saqlain who is very experienced,” said Rahim. “But we have to execute our plans on the field. Pakistan are not unbeatable if we play well.”
Ajmal is the leading wicket taker in Twenty20 internationals with 64 and his ability poses a real challenge for Bangladesh, who have lost all their five matches in the shortest format against Pakistan.
“Playing Pakistan is a big challenge because their bowling is good but we want to put up our best.”
Bangladesh only reached the second round in the inaugural World Twenty20 held in South Africa in 2007 and have lost nine consecutive matches in the tournament since then.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.
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