Johannesburg:Experienced Pakistani batsman Mohammad Yousuf has said his team will start favourites against New Zealand in the Champions Trophy semi-final on Saturday.
"We have fought and played well in all of our three games so far. The entire team gave a good performance and our morale is high. I think we are favourites in the semi-final. I hope we win this match," Yousuf said on Thursday.
Pakistan qualified for the semi-finals with four points from three matches in the four-team Group A, beating arch-rivals India and the West Indies before losing to defending champions Australia in their last game.
"We won a good match against India and I think the match we lost yesterday (against Australia) was the best game of the tournament as it was decided on the last ball," said Yousuf, 35.
Pakistan looked like winning the game against Australia when they reduced their opponents to 187-8 before Brett Lee and Nathan Hauritz helped their team achieve a 206-run target in a last-ball finish.
"You cannot call any team favourites in one-day cricket because anything can happen, but if you consider the performances of both the sides, I think we have an upper hand," said Yousuf.
"No doubt, they (New Zealand) played really well in their last two matches against Sri Lanka and England. Their pace bowling is really good, especially with the return of Shane Bond. It will be a good contest."
Yousuf, who has so far scored 9,450 runs in 275 one-day internationals, said in-form spinners Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi were expected to give the team a big advantage.
"The advantage is that our spin bowling is very good. With the arrival of Ajmal, our spin bowling has been strengthened. Ajmal and Afridi have been bowling really well in recent times," said Yousuf.
"This is the main reason why our team has reached the semi-final here and also won the Twenty20 World Championships in England this year."
Australia clash with England in the first semi-final at Centurion on Friday.