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June 20, 2019

‘Hard working’ Pakistan focus on must-win South Africa game


Thu, Jun 20, 2019

LONDON: At Lord’s here on Thursday, Mohammad Hafeez was asked whether Pakistan’s senior players were more responsible for the national team’s below-par showing in the World Cup so far.

The veteran all-rounder responded by saying that “by senior players you mean Shoaib Malik.”

It seemed that Hafeez likes to think that he himself can’t be included in the list of Pakistan’s under-performing seniors at the World Cup. His belief stems from the fact that Hafeez has scored a match-winning 86 against England and so far accumulated 155 runs from four matches at 38.75. Such low is the standard of Pakistan’s performance in this tournament that even with average figures Hafeez stands out as one of the team’s star performers with the bat.

"Yes, collectively we haven’t performed as a team and that’s the reason why we are placed at the bottom of the table,” he told reporters after Pakistan’s training session ahead of their next World Cup game against South Africa on Sunday.

Hafeez stressed that he and his team-mates have been in pain seeing Pakistan placed just ahead of Afghanistan on the points table with just three points from five matches.

“Obviously it’s really painful for us when we see ourselves at the bottom. I don’t think that it brings us under pressure but it’s painful,” said Hafeez, who was quick to add that Pakistan are capable of bouncing back.

“If you see previous history of Pakistan team you will see that we bounce back. We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to make a comeback. We are working hard and will give our best.”

Hafeez said that a long rest after the embarrassing defeat against India has helped his team regroup.

Pakistan have to win all their remaining four World Cup games to stay alive in the hunt for the semi-finals. Does Hafeez believe Pakistan can achieve this goal?

“All we know is that we have to win the next game. We are not thinking about anything else. We are not thinking about the fact that we have to win all four of our matches. We have regrouped. “The five-day gap has helped us in reviving ourselves. We have sat down together and we are supporting one another. We have to do that as a team and help ourselves and the team from within.”

Pakistan have to really raise their game to stay alive in the World Cup. Hafeez wants them to give a collective team effort.

“You have to be consistent. We have to give collective efforts. The one match we have won here is because the contributions came from everywhere. More often than not you won’t see individual performances matter much. You have to perform as a team to win matches,” he said.

A lot has been said after Pakistan’s controversial decision to put India into bat on a batting wicket at Old Trafford on Sunday. Did Hafeez, as the team’s senior most player, agree with the management’s decision.

“At the end of the day it’s a team decision. It’s easy to discuss it after the match. I own the decision of the team management. One should realize that we didn’t capitalise on the decision.

“You don’t take your decision after reading a tweet,” when asked why Pakistan ignored the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had tweeted before the match that Pakistan should opt to bat first if they won the toss. “The main thing is that we didn’t play good cricket. Responsibility is not on one player as everybody is responsible for it.”

Hafeez said that Pakistan were now focused on the task of winning their forthcoming matches.

“All of us are really sad over the defeat against India but we have to move forward. We still have a chance to progress in this tournament.

“You must have seen our practice session today. Our body language was really positive.”