Pakistan are eyeing a historic series triumph against India buoyed by their emphatic five-wicket win in the first Twenty20 international at Bangalore on Christmas Day.
Skipper Mohammed Hafeez was pleased with the fighting spirit of the team as they clawed back from being down in the dumps at 12-3 to chase down a modest target of 134 in the first ever T20 international played at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
“We have the opportunity to win the series. We are all ready for this. Not just tomorrow’s match, we are positive about the entire series. We are united (as a team) in this series and we want to play good cricket,” he told reporters on Thursday ahead of the second T20 in Ahmedabad on December 28.
“The way we played the last match, our morale is quite high. The way the entire team bounced back in both batting and bowling, that was morale boosting for us and we will try to continue that tomorrow as well,” added Hafeez who led from the front with a composed knock of 61 to lead Pakistan's recovery during a 106-run partnership with Shoaib Malik.
Hafeez gave credit to the bowlers for restricting India to 133 for 9 after getting off to a flier.
“Most of our players have proved at the international level that they are match winners. Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, recently included M Irfan. Shoaib Malik is the only one who hasn’t bowled but he is good enough to play his role in any format with his spin bowling. We always believe that as a bowling unit, we can always come back. We have got enough experience. We can dominate with our bowling.”
“I will give credit to the bowlers and fielders. They (India) were 70 for no loss and after that we came back. Bowling has always been our strength and in the last match even after a bad start, the comeback was outstanding. As a captain I am very pleased with that,” he added.
On his surprise bowler Irfan, who bamboozled the Indian players with his pace and bounce, Hafeez said: “He is an outstanding talent. We had a domestic tournament recently, where we saw his performance and for us he came across as a surprise package, who will be difficult especially in this part of the world and also across the world because of the extra bounce he gets.”
Asked about the pressure, he said: “Pressure is always there on both teams. It is always there at the international level. I don’t know about them (India) but we are taking the game easy and we will try to win it.”
India on the hand will be under tremendous pressure to salvage their pride after losing for the first time in four T20 meetings against arch rivals Pakistan.
Having failed to defend their home turf in the Tests against England and only managing to draw the T20 series, India are now on the brink of losing again, this time against Pakistan in the shortest version.
The most worrying feature is opposition teams are targeting India's weakest link - the bowling - with increasing regularity while the batting too hasn't been up to the mark. Some of India's strategies, and their team combination, have come in for criticism.
Against England, the bowlers couldn't defend 177 and against Pakistan in Bangalore, though the match looked close thanks to debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar's dream spell, the match was always in Pakistan's pocket once India lost nine wickets for 56 runs in their last 10 overs.
The stacks are heavily loaded against India in the second T20 against Pakistan at Motera unless there is a dramatic change in fortunes.
Pakistan: M Hafeez (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, M Irfan, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul, Asad Ali, Zulfiqar Baber, Ahmad Shahzad.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Parvinder Awana.