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Karachi: Mar 20, 2014
After being humiliated by South Africa in a warm-up match, Pakistan cricketers claimed to be in the best of spirits ahead of their marquee clash against India in the ICC World T20 2014 on Friday, with skipper Mohammad Hafeez saying that the team has learnt to remain calm in the high-pressure game.
“It was disappointing the way we lost the match but we were experimenting a bit with the batting order. But it is a wake up call for us and we have a full day to prepare for the big match against India,” Hafeez said after the loss to the Proteas during which Pakistan were bowled out for just 71 runs.
India and Pakistan will clash in their World T20 opener.
Hafeez said the team remained upbeat about the World T20 campaign despite being in a tough group where every match is going to be vital ahead of the semi-finals.
“We are confident about our T20 outfit which has both experience and dash and the good thing is that all the players are now used to playing India in a high pressure game,” Hafeez added.
Pakistan’s mercurial all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who joined the team late, said he had been telling the players to focus on all the matches and not just the one against India.
“It’s just not about the match against India. It is also about how we play the other games. I am feeling fit and fine now and the spirits are good in the team. But we all realise that the win in the Asia Cup is now history and this is a different format so we need to start afresh against India,” he said.
“There is no doubt that there is a lot of expectation against India. But we will maintain our calm and just take the match as an opening match which every team wants to win to start a tournament on a high,” Afridi added.
Former captain, Shoaib Malik, who holds an impressive record against India, was also geared up for the India match.
“We all realise how important the India match is but this World T20 Cup is also one of the closest I have seen because nearly all the teams have strong T20 sides and there is no easy game in the group stage. But yes, there is no doubt if we can start off with a win over India it will boost our confidence for the remaining matches,” Malik added.
Saeed Ajmal, the champion off-spinner, said the team depends a lot on him to ease the pressure off the other bowlers.
“But overall we have a good balanced all-round bowling attack and that is our strength. The main challenge for us is that we are playing on pitches which are more suited for the batsmen so it is going to be a tough challenge for the bowlers throughout the tournament,” he said.
“I take India as any other opposition. My aim has always been to take maximum wickets to help my team. I will enter the match with the same strategy,” he added.
Stylish middle-order batsman Umar Akmal also said he was not taking any pressure for the match against India.
“Pakistan-India matches draw a lot of hype but I am not afraid of this big game. I’ll remain fearless,” he said.
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