LAHORE: Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez Wednesday said he hoped his team gets a much-needed lift from their match against archrivals India, which opens the main round of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. The fifth edition of the World Twenty20 with 16 teams in competition will be held from March 16 (Sunday) to April 6. Bangladesh, ranked 10th in the world, have been drawn with Afghanistan, Nepal and Hong Kong in group A of the first round. The other group comprises Zimbabwe, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands. The top team from each group advances to the main tournament. They will join the eight seeded teams in the second, which opens with Indo-Pak match on March 21.
Hafeez wants his team to get the ideal start by beating India. “India-Pakistan match is always a pressure match, as a player as a captain I am very happy that our first match is against India and from there we will, Insha’Allah get a good take off and will perform better in all the matches during the tournament,” Hafeez told reporters before departure to Bangladesh. The Pakistan team flies off on Thursday and will play two warm-up matches, against New Zealand on March 17 and South Africa two days later.
Pakistan are placed in Group Two in the second round along with India, Australia, the West Indies and one qualifier from the first round. Hafeez believed Pakistan had the momentum with a win over India in the Asia Cup. “I think we will have that momentum of our win against India in the Asia Cup,” said Hafeez of the one wicket win in the Asia Cup earlier this month. “We have advantage that where we are going (Bangladesh) we have played one-day cricket there recently. We have one week to get back into Twenty20 mould, expectations should be always positive and we all need to move in one direction.” Hafeez said no team would be easy in the event. “Lots of teams are playing Twenty20 now and you can’t take any team easy, you have to be positive in your thinking against all the teams. I think two things are very important in a big tournament, one is momentum which you have to carry and the second is luck and with the prayers of countrymen the luck factor will also be with us.”
Hafeez hopes dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi will regain fitness and join the team on March 17. “Afridi is going through rehab, I as a captain, need a fit Afridi that’s why we have given him time,” said Hafeez of the dashing hitter who hurt his groin during the Asia Cup. The 34-year-old Afridi hit two last over sixes to help Pakistan beat India and then smashed a whirlwind 25-ball 59 to steer a difficult 327-run chase against hosts Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. Hafeez said Pakistan team received good support from Bangladeshi fans. “After a very long time we felt in Bangladesh that crowd is supporting us, although we play our home matches in United Arab Emirates (UAE) we didn’t get that much support as we got in Bangladesh, it’s a good sign for Pakistan that wherever we are going we are getting crowd support.”
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