MOHAMMAD Hafeez speaks to media at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—White Star
MOHAMMAD Hafeez speaks to media at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—White Star

LAHORE: Veteran Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez on Friday said he will quit international cricket after this year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup and pledged to end his career on a positive note.

“It is no surprise for me to be included in the Pakistan team. Yes, I was not selected for the last two series [against Sri Lanka and Australia] but now I am in and I will try my best to have my contribution in Pakistan’s victory and also to share my experience with youngsters to help them to perform better for the country for a longer period,” said the 39-year-old Hafeez, who has been selected as an off-spin all-rounder for the last many years.

Hafeez was talking to the media on the first day of the short training camp of Pakistan, set up at the Gaddafi Stadium for the three-match home T20 International series against Bangladesh to be held at the same venue from Jan 24 to 27.

To a question, Hafeez said though he was not included in PCB’s central contract list, his own plan was to play for Pakistan till the T20 World Cup being held in Australia from Oct 18 to Nov 15.

“Playing till the T20 World Cup is my plan and time will tell how it goes. But I will go with a positive frame of mind as I never believe in negative thinking. It is an opportunity for me to excel in the way to perform for Pakistan’s win and I am looking forward to it,” Hafeez remarked.

PAKISTAN cricketers undergo net practice at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—M.Arif/White Star
PAKISTAN cricketers undergo net practice at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—M.Arif/White Star

Experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik and uncapped pacer Haris Rauf were absent from the camp as currently they are featuring in Bangladesh and Australian T20 leagues, respectively.

Hafeez has been selected in the Pakistan T20 team after a gap of 14 months by head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq. The selections of Malik and Hafeez for the Bangladesh T20s, both of whom have failed to perform of late when it really matters, have raised many questions.

When his attention was brought to the fact that his bowling has not been that effective during the past several years, Hafeez while admitting the setback was quick to emphasise that his main strength was batting, not bowling.

“I played for Pakistan as batsman and with bowling as [an] extra ability but my [top] priority has been batting. I am looking forward to the opportunity and want to contribute in Pakistan’s win,” Hafeez, who has featured in 89 T20 Internationals claiming 54 wickets at an average of 22.70, said.

To a question, he dispelled the impression that in past he failed to come up to the expectations of previous head coach Mickey Arthur, who selected amid intense criticism for the 2019 50-over World Cup and now Misbah had reposed his confidence in him and for which he (Misbah) was facing the flak.

“I think my performance was not bad in the 2019 World Cup as I remained third best scorer from Pakistan and I also earned man-of-the-match award in one match,” Hafeez recalled.

In eight 2019 World Cup matches, Hafeez managed to score 253 runs at a mediocre average of 31.63 and claimed just two wickets at a poor 94.54.

He said playing before the home crowd was always exciting for any cricketer, adding “it is a good omen that after Sri Lanka, now Bangladesh are visiting Pakistan for which the credit goes to PCB officials”.

Lauding recently-installed T20 captain Babar Azam, Hafeez said besides being a good human being he was also a fine cricketer.

To a question that Babar was his big supporter when the team was selected, Hafeez said as he was not in that meeting he did not know the factual position.

“Now my only target is to perform and come up to the expectations, whosoever selected me,” Hafeez said.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020

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