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'Take some singles too,' former teamate Azhar Mahmood has advised Shahid Afridi. -Photo by AP

After blowing hot and cold in the warm-up matches where they beat arch-rivals India but lost to England, Pakistan are ready for some serious business.

They begin their campaign in Group D against a New Zealand side that completely outclassed Bangladesh on Friday courtesy a record-breaking ton by Brendon McCullum.

But while Pakistan has a quality bowling line to stop the likes of McCullum from getting away with the game, former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood believes Mohammad Hafeez’s battling line would have to start showing some spine even in the 20-over format.

“Pakistan remains a dangerous and unpredictable team capable of defeating any team. It really depends on how they play on any given day – For instance the way Kamran Akmal batted recently against India – if a batsman can play that kind of innings, he can win the game almost single handedly for any team. Pakistan’s bowling has always been good – it’s the batting in which we struggle the most. All in all, Pakistan has a good chance in this tournament as most of the players in the team have recently taken part in the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL) and they know the conditions very well,” Mahmood said in an interview with Pakpassion.net.

Mahmood also offered a few words of advice for the three men who he tipped to make a difference in the World Twenty20, provided they were willing to grind it out.

Imran Nazir: “Imran Nazir is very talented but he needs to use his head – he needs to think that if he faces fifty deliveries he will get eighty or ninety runs, but it seems that all he wants to do is to hit the ball out of the ground from ball one! What Imran needs to do is to stay at the crease with a calm mind and use his talent. If he doesn’t use his head then he will get those ten or twelve run scores which are not good for the team.”

Shahid Afridi: “Shahid Afridi is another such case and that really is nothing new. Everybody knows that Afridi has not been performing well as a batsman recently. However, he needs to apply the same advice that I have for Imran Nazir. The other day, he blocked the first ball and then tried to hit a six the very next ball which did not work. Shahid needs to give himself a chance by playing for a longer time. We all know how dangerous a player he is but he needs to allow himself more time at the crease. People usually think that in T20 cricket, you have 120 balls to play and you have to do something spectacular from ball one but the reality is different. 120 deliveries is a lot of time and Afridi needs to play a few balls, take some singles and doubles, get used to the conditions and the bowling and then target the bowlers.”

Umar Akmal: “In addition shot selection is very important in T20 cricket – I think a lot of Pakistani players are not doing this and both Nazir and Afridi are guilty of this problem, as is Umar Akmal. Umar also seems to be making the same mistakes. The aforementioned cricketers are so talented but they just don’t seem to be using their minds and their experience when by now they should be experienced enough to know how to approach T20 cricket. Kamran Akmal was sensational the other day as was Virat Kohli  in how they built their innings and the Pakistani batsmen need to learn from that.”


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