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Pakistan Ready for World Twenty20 Semi-Finals

by AFP
Punit Paranjpe—AFP

Punit Paranjpe—AFP

Captain Mohammad Hafeez says team has used week’s break to iron-out players’ shortcomings.

Pakistan will return to World Twenty20 action after a week’s break on Sunday, charged up to make a move for the semi-finals by winning their two remaining games in the Super-10 round in Dhaka.

Mohammad Hafeez’s men, who lost their opening group two match to India by seven wickets on March 21, bounced back to beat Australia by 16 runs last Sunday and remain in contention. Pakistan must defeat hosts Bangladesh on Sunday and the defending champions West Indies on Tuesday to join India in the semi-finals from the group.

“The picture is clear,” Hafeez said on Saturday. “We have to win both games to make sure we are in the last four. There is no scope to make mistakes now and we are eager to get back to the field.”

Hafeez said the team used the break to iron out shortcomings ahead of the crucial matches at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. “We have trained and worked hard for the last six days,” he said. “The management and the coaches worked on our weaknesses. The build-up for the crucial stage has gone off very well.”

Hafeez praised India, who won three consecutive games to ensure their place in the knock-out round even before their last league match against Australia on Sunday. “India have played very good cricket so far in the tournament,” the Pakistan skipper said. “It’s good they are through, so the rest of the teams know what it will take to advance. Expectations should always remain high. Our target is not just the semi-finals, but also to win the tournament. I think we are destined to do well.”

Pakistan, champions in 2009, have an impressive record in World Twenty20, making the semi-finals of all four editions so far. Pakistan’s batting, which faltered against India to be restricted to 130-7, came back strongly against Australia where they piled up 191-5 following Umar Akmal’s scintillating 94 off 54 balls.

Hafeez said Akmal, who strained a hamstring during that innings, was fit to play on Sunday. “The break came as a blessing in disguise,” Hafeez said. “It gave time to the physios to work on him. He has been training for the last two days.”

Hafeez knows the tougher game will be against the West Indies on Tuesday, but refused to take Bangladesh lightly even though the hosts have lost both matches so far. “No team is easy to beat in T20 cricket,” he said. “You have to do the basics right every time. We respect Bangladesh and will do our best to win.”

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