Pakistan’s morale high, says Malik ahead of Namibia game

Published November 2, 2021
All-rounder Shoaib Malik is seen during a World T20 2021 match. — Photo via Twitter
All-rounder Shoaib Malik is seen during a World T20 2021 match. — Photo via Twitter

ABU DHABI: Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik said on Monday Pakistan’s morale was “high” from last month’s win over India ahead of this week’s Twenty20 World Cup match against Namibia in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan have raced to three wins in as many games starting with a resounding ten-wicket opening fixture victory over arch-rivals India followed by New Zealand and Afghanistan.

They need another win to qualify for the semi-finals from Group 2 of the Super 12 stage.

“The morale in the camp is high,” said 39-year-old Malik before Tuesday’s meeting. “When you win games, the confidence level is quite high in the dressing room. Everyone is looking forward to playing the rest of the games we have left in the tournament.

“When you start your tournament against a big team [India] and then you win that game, then everything comes in your dressing room.”

Malik, whose tennis star wife Sania Mirza is from India, refused to comment on their arch-rival’s abysmal show in the event, saying “we are focused on our own performance and not looking around.”

Malik praised the intensity in the set-up.

“Obviously when you start the tournament, the goal is to give your best shot as a team,” he said.

“But since I’ve joined the team, I’ve seen Pakistan teams practise sessions and the way they have been dealing with pressure from the world until now, it’s been exceptionally well,” he added.

Pakistan have never played a Twenty20 International against Namibia while they won the only ODI between the two sides in the 2003 World Cup (50 overs) with a 171-run margin in South Africa.

But Malik said Namibia, who qualified from the first round and have beaten Scotland, will not be taken lightly.

“To be honest, we are not thinking any different because T20 format is where you can’t take the opposition lightly,” he said. “And we are fully confident, so we are looking forward to the game.”

Pakistan have played the same eleven in all three games but considering a relatively easier opponent, ranked 15th in the world in the format, they could rotate their side.

Malik admitted bio-secure confinement for the players in the Covid-19 restriction is a challenge.

“Bubble life, it’s a tough thing, especially when you’re like playing a lot of back-to-back series,” he said.

“And being in a bubble, it’s not an easy thing to go through. But the good thing is that our families are with us. We’ve been spending a lot of time together as families, as teammates. So it’s a good thing. But when your goal is to achieve something in life, then you have to go through hard yards, and we have that in our minds. And we are only focused on this particular tournament. And some have started enjoying the bubble life as well.”

Meanwhile, after two days of rest, Pakistan cricketers underwent an extensive training session at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on Monday.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2021

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