Skipper Hafeez backs bowlers to shine
Pakistan start series in India today
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez has backed his bowlers to shine against India's talented batting line-up as the two nations renew one of cricket's biggest rivalries this week.
India and Pakistan have not faced each other in a bilateral series in five years after ties between the two countries' cricket authorities were damaged by the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which 175 people died. The attack was blamed on a Pakistan-based militant group.
In the last four years the two countries have only met on five occasions in multi-team limited-over competitions at the World Cup, World Twenty20, Asia Cup and Champions Trophy.
However, the long wait is over as the rivals resume competition in India today with the first of two Twenty20 internationals, which will be followed by three one-day internationals.
Touring skipper Hafeez is hoping for more encounters between the two in the future.
"It's not only the people of India and Pakistan that miss a bilateral series between the two nations but the whole cricketing world does. India and Pakistan should keep playing against each other on a regular basis," he said.
"We wish cricket returns to Pakistan soon and some of our youngsters get a chance to play in front of a home crowd."
India head into tomorrow's opener in Bangalore on the back of a 1-1 draw with England in their T20I series.
The Indian batsmen impressed during both matches, comfortably reaching their target of 158 to win the first match and then making 177 for eight in a losing effort in match two, and Hafeez admits counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a glittering array of talent at his disposal.
However, the Pakistan skipper also believes he has the bowling attack to counter that threat.
"India's batting is known to be the best in the world. But matches are not won by batting alone. You need good bowlers to win you games," Hafeez said on www.bcci.tv.
"We have no doubt that the skills of their batsmen are second to none in the world but we have such good bowlers that we're confident of doing well against them."
One player Pakistan will not be facing over the next few weeks is India legend Sachin Tendulkar, who on Sunday announced his ODI retirement.
Hafeez admits his side are disappointed not to be facing the record-breaking veteran.
"We will miss Sachin, we have been looking forward to play against him in this series," he said on www.dawn.com.
Tendulkar was not part of the T20I series against England and India have named an unchanged squad for the visit of Pakistan.
Dhoni hopes the matches against England will stand his players in good stead against a Pakistan side whose last international action was almost three months ago .
He told reporters: "T20 is slightly different. You have to be a bit unorthodox and try a few different things. It is different from the longer format. So I think, a few games will give us time to get into the groove."
He added of tomorrow's match: "Both teams are evenly placed and the team that plays better will win."