Far from being daunted by the prospect of facing India in their World Twenty20 opener on Friday, Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez is rather happy his team will kick off their campaign in Bangladesh against the arch-rivals.
The bitter South Asian rivals have fought three wars in their brief independent history and remain deeply mistrustful of each other and there has been tremendous pressure on the cricketers whenever they met each other.
Hafeez, however, was determined not to get swayed by the emotion that would surround the match at Mirpur’s Shere Bangla National Stadium.
“India-Pakistan game is always full of pressure,” the 33-year-old told reporters on Saturday. “We as a team are very happy. I’m happy that our first match is such that if we do well in it, subsequent matches would seem easier, as far as pressure is concerned.
“Of course you can’t underestimate any team in this tournament, but we’d like to take off well from there.”
Hafeez insisted Pakistan could not afford to get distracted by their rivalry against India if they are to replicate their 2009 triumph from a group also containing defending champions West Indies and tournament favourite Australia.
“Media is always excited about India-Pakistan match but we are not targeting just one team. We have plans for Australia and West Indies as well, both are good sides. We are ready for all,” he said.
“It seems our group has all the favourites in it. It’s again a good challenge for the team. You can’t take things easy. You have to give your best to win the game.”
All-rounder Shahid Afridi, recovering from a hamstring injury, did not arrive with the team but Hafeez assured the talismanic all-rounder would reach Monday.
“I think our team manager cleared the position before we left Pakistan. He is fit, we’ve just given him some extra time for his rehab, so that he joins us fully fit. I think he is joining us on (March) 17th.”
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