Hafeez backs bowlers to lead Pakistan to glory

Hafeez confident Pakistan can overcome India when the arch-rivals meet in the World Cup semi-finals .

Afp March 26, 2011

MOHALI: Mohammad Hafeez is confident Pakistan can overcome India when the arch-rivals meet in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday thanks to the "strongest bowling attack in the world".

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, possess a bowling line-up for pretty much all conditions despite missing the new ball duo of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, both banned following last year's spot-fixing scandal in England.

"We believe that we have the strongest bowling attack in the world at the moment," said Hafeez on Saturday.

"That is the key. Our bowling is our strength and our batsmen are just supporting them in whatever way is required."

Umar Gul is arguably the most skilled exponent of reverse-swing at this tournament while Hafeez, who took the new ball alongside him in the 10-wicket quarter-final thrashing of the West Indies, is a more than handy off-spinner.

Left-arm pace comes in the shape of Wahab Riaz, with all-rounder Abdul Razzaq providing seam support while Saaed Ajmal's off-spin is a potent weapon.

And then there is the leg-spin of Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi who is the tournament's top bowler with 21 wickets at an average of just 10.71 apiece.

Meanwhile fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who will retire after the World Cup waits in the wings.

"At the moment, we definitely rely on our bowling but we know we are capable enough as batsmen to achieve any total, whatever our bowlers give us," added Hafeez.

The pitch for India's five-wicket quarter-final win over Australia in Ahmedabad offered plenty of assistance to spinners, an area where the co-hosts clearly had an edge on the beaten champions.

But Hafeez said whatever kind of surface was prepared in Mohali would suit Pakistan.

"We really don't care about the pitch, whatever it will be, we are good enough to perform to the best of our ability."

Matches between India and Pakistan are always special affairs.

And the context of a World Cup semi-final in the border state of Punjab merely heightens the frenzied atmosphere, particularly as India-Pakistan fixtures have become increasingly rare for political and security reasons.

"For me this is the best cricketing opportunity as an individual player you can have, to perform in such a pressure game, the semi-final of a World Cup and especially Pakistan-India," said the 30-year-old Hafeez, born in Sargodha, on the Pakistan side of Punjab.

India have beaten Pakistan in all four of their World Cup meetings but history was of no concern to Hafeez.

"Yes, Pakistan has not defeated India in the World Cup but in the last 12 years, Australia also had not lost a single World Cup game. But then they lost to us (by four wickets) and to India.

"There is no point thinking about the past. We think about the day; whoever the opponent is, we try to win the day."


noor muhammad | 10 years ago | Reply i think two things will go a long way in making pakistan win the semi final. first the toss, its very crucial because of the dew factor. if pakistan wins the toss they should field first and secondly shahid afridi should let razzak play ahead of him, because mostly we have seen that shahid afridi is mehman for a few balls only. my best wishes for pakistan
Naushad Shafkat | 10 years ago | Reply Hafeez is right; we have the most potent attack in the world at the moment. But our batsmen too have to get their act together especially Shahid Afridi. He must act more responsibly and pick the right balls to hit out of the ground. However the media hype must not be allowed to put undue pressure on the players and the media must show some restraint. This is a team that we all had written off and has been playing under immense pressure for both off the field and on the field reasons. The fact that they have reached the semis is to be appreciated and they deserve a pat on the back. All said and done we must all remember that it is only a cricket match and may the better team on the day win.
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