LAHORE - Pakistan T20 format captain M Hafeez Wednesday said that left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar could be Pakistan's surprise package at the World Twenty20, much like Raza Hasan was in the previous edition of the tournament and could fill void of Irfan’s absence.
Hafeez said that the selectors had selected a ‘world-class’ team and adding that Zulfiqar and Sharjeel Khan could deliver for the team. Irfan, who last played against South Africa in the UAE, has since been on rest to recover from a hip injury, which he once again aggravated last week during a domestic T20 match in Rawalpindi. Had he remained fit, could have an automatic selection.
"Though Irfan will be missed because his first two overs could have been lethal, yet it will provide an opportunity for others to come forward and make an impact,” Hafeez added.
"We have world-class spinners in Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqar Babar, and along with this experience, we have youth in the form of M Talha and Bilawal Bhatti." The World T20 will be Hafeez's second as Pakistan captain. In 2012, he led the side into the semi-finals, where they lost to Sri Lanka by 16 runs. In the last two years, Hafeez has been pushing for a younger team, but both of his World T20 squads have included a couple of older names. Imran Nazir and Abdul Razzaq were picked in 2012 and this time, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal have been recalled.
Justifying Malik and Kamran Akmal’s selection, the T20 skipper stated: "Yes, I have always encouraged youngsters but unfortunately the players we have relied on haven't performed in the recent past. The selectors thought it's a big event and we need experience so I think that's why they included Malin and Kamran and I wish them best of luck.”
Pakistan are currently preparing for the Asia Cup, with three training sessions every day at the Gaddafi Stadium and the National Cricket Academy. Hafeez, the vice captain of the ODI team, said being defending champions has given the players a lot of confidence.
"We can't say we are hot favourites for the event but we are taking the confidence that we are defending champions. We can't take anyone easy but have to play good cricket to get desired results. India is a good team. When we went there we beat them last year and we always try to bring good results against them and this time too, we will try to give our best,” he asserted.
Reacting to coach Moin Khan's remarks about the fear of failure in the team, Hafeez said it came with insecurity. "It comes when one feels insecure but when the management ensures that we will get maximum opportunity, we obviously give our best and express ourselves without any fear."