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June 28, 2019

Determined Haris eyes more World Cup success


Fri, Jun 28, 2019

LEEDS, England: Babar Azam is being hailed for his match-winning ton against New Zealand but not many would argue that it was Haris Sohail, who actually sparked Pakistan’s World Cup revival.

While batting at No. 5, the stylish left-hander hit a whirlwind 89 to play the lead role in Pakistan’s 49-run triumph against South Africa at Lord’s. He scored his second successive fifty in the must-win game against New Zealand at Edgbaston and together with Babar put on a match-winning stand of 126 in a low-scoring game.

It’s hard to imagine that the 30-year-old was Pakistan’s second choice as the team management continued to prefer the misfiring Shoaib Malik, confining Haris to the bench after just one failure – against the West Indies.

But Haris has no grievances.

“Of course I felt a little bad when I was dropped, but I was thinking only about the team - it was for the betterment of the team,” he told reporters.

“When we play for Pakistan, we have one aim: what is best for Pakistan. As such I haven't changed anything, I'm playing according to the situation and thankfully succeeding.”

Haris rejected the impression that he has suddenly found form during the World Cup.

“The way I was batting in the Australia series, I was in good form even then,” said Haris.

“I have a slightly different role for the World Cup, I'm batting at five, but wherever you bat the basics should be simple and based on the requirement of the situation.”

Haris said that previously he was unable to cement his place in the national team because of injury.

“Whenever I've played before, I've never been out of the team because of my performances. I had a bad surgery and it was because of that I was struggling,” he said.

Haris stressed that Pakistan’s World Cup mantra is to keep things simple.

“We have kept it very simple. We are taking the World Cup match-by-match,” he said.

Saturday’s game against bottom-placed Afghans is perhaps Pakistan’s easiest in the contest but Haris made it clear that his team won’t be taking anything for granted.

“We won’t be taking Afghanistan lightly,” he said.

On a hot sunny day in Leeds, Afghanistan are likely to target Pakistan with their spin duo of Rashid Khan and teenager Mujeeb Ur Rehman, who could be the team’s trump card on a dry Headingley wicket.

“They have quality spinners and we have seen a lot of videos to try and work out their variations,” Haris said.

“We lost to Afghanistan in a warm-up - they played very good cricket that day. We hope to play better cricket and win,” he added.

“Every match has a different pressure and at a World Cup, there is always pressure. Hopefully we will see a good match against Afghanistan.”

Haris agreed that successive wins against South Africa and New Zealand have raised the team’s morale.

“When you are losing in an important event such wins are always important for the team,” he said.

Following their impressive outings in recent games, Babar Azam and Haris are being compared with the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.

But Haris brushed aside the comparisons.

“If we think about that then we will be under pressure. We have to keep things simple. What we should do is try to give even better performances.”