World Twenty20: Momentum with us in India-Pakistan clash, says Mohammad Hafeez
Pakistan's Twenty20 skipper Mohammad Hafeez feels the momentum will be on his team's side when they take on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament proper opener at Mirpur on March 21.
Pakistan will start their campaign at World Twenty20 with a high-octane clash against India but skipper Mohammad Hafeez believes the "pressure" of locking horns against the arch-rivals in the opening match will act as a "motivation" for the side. (Shahid Afridi eager to help Pakistan win second World Twenty20 title)
"I always say that an India-Pakistan match is full of pressure but you enjoy playing it," Hafeez said.
"As a captain I am happy that it's the first match and if you do well in such an opening match you obviously feel much easier in upcoming matches as far as pressure is concerned. Obviously you can't take any team with lighter hands but in an India match, we would want to start off doing well. (Pakistan best in the world, says Shahid Afridi)
"The element of pressure is actually a factor of motivation. It is always an extreme pleasure with the crowd response and we always enjoy playing against India and for the upcoming match we are very excited," he added.
The 2009 champions, Pakistan had finished runners-up in the inaugural edition in 2007. Besides, they reached the semi-finals twice. In the recently-concluded Asia Cup too, Pakistan reached the finals and Hafeez said his team have the momentum ahead of the World T20 event.
"Momentum in any tournament plays an important role and with sort of cricket we have played in Asia Cup, we have got that momentum," Hafeez said.
India missed the services of regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the recently-concluded Asia Cup and he will be back at the helm in the World T20 but Hafeez said it doesn't make much difference.
"We beat India in the Asia Cup and with the exception of any individual it doesn't make any difference," Hafeez said.
"But, yes, I understand that there are some key players that can make a difference and Dhoni's leadership has been good in last four, five years.
"But for us it's not a talking point that he wasn't there and now he is here to lead India. What we need is to play well whoever is our opponent and that is the most important thing."
Pakistan seamer Sohail Tanvir, who made his debut against India at the 2007 tournament, believes India will have the strongest batting line-up.
"With the inclusion of Dhoni, Raina and Yuvraj, India are I think the strongest batting line-up. But then again, it's not a game of big names, it depends on how you perform on a given day," he said.
"I have played with a lot of Indian players. I shared a dressing room with Ashwin and Yuvi. They are good friends off the field. The tension or the hot gestures that you used to see are still like that, it hasn't changed over the last 10-15 years, but off the field we are good friends," said Tanvir, who had played in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals.