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Sports

March 21, 2017

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Struggling Hafeez says selection justified

Struggling Hafeez says selection justified

LAHORE: Pakistan allrounder Mohammad  Hafeez has said hewas satisfiedwith his recent  One-day International (ODI) performances  in Australia—although “itwasn’t outstanding”—  because he felt under pressure  on two fronts: he was making a comeback  to the teamand it was his first series with a  remodelled action.  Hafeez wasn’t selected in the original  ODI squad for the Australia tour but was  called up a fewdays later because Azhar Ali  got injured.He scored amatchwinning halfcentury  in Melbourne to lead Pakistan to  their only win on the tour, but finished with  123 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 72.  In the Pakistan Super League (PSL) that  followed, Hafeez made only 153 runs at a  strike rate of 99 in nine innings—77 came  in one game—during Peshawar Zalmi’s run  to the title. However, he was retained in the  ODI squad and recalled to the T20I side for  the upcoming tour of the Caribbean.  “My performance in Australia wasn’t  outstanding, but I felt it was okay,” Hafeez  said in Lahore, when asked if he had expected  to be retained. “Iwas under pressure  for two reasons - one because it was my  comeback as a player, and secondly because  it was my first series back as a  bowler. Though I couldn’t get wickets, I felt  I bowled according to the situation and my  economy was quite good, which helped the  team.  “In the PSL,my rolewasn’t defined properly  and my position in the batting order  changed, but that is not an excuse. I did  struggle and my performances weren’t  strong enough. But when selectors opt for a  player, they look at the conditions and requirements  in the team. I amhappy they have  givenme the responsibility and trustedme.  “If you look at my numbers, I think I deserve  to be in the Pakistan team. In the last  two years, I think I have played 28 to 29  matches and averaged 38 in ODIs. I have always  believed that a fewmatches, or one or  two series, don’t justify your talent. Good  and bad days do come but when you are a  proven player, you surely get more  chances.”  When asked about Pakistan players’ reluctance  to retire, Hafeez said hewould not  hang around if he felt he wasn’t able to perform.  “I will definitely think about [retirement]  when my time comes. I am 36 right  now. I believe thatmy performances and fitness  are justifying my place for Pakistan. I  will only play until I feel I can match the  level of performances I expect of myself.”  Hafeez reiterated his views about corruption,  saying that guilty players should be  banned for life. In 2015, he reportedly  turned down an offer to play for Chittagong  Vikings in the BPL because Mohammad  Amir, who was returning from a five-year  ban for spot-fixing,was on the team. Hafeez  had also been reluctant to train with Amir  but has played with the fast bowler since.  —Agencies    

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