It is for the first time after the 2006 series that the Pakistan team is touring India. The strained political relationship after the Mumbai terror attacks resulted in the severing of all cricketing ties between the two countries. The last time Pakistan played in India was during the 2011 World Cup semi-final in Mohali.
Critics have been demanding that Afridi be dropped for his poor run with the bat. The flamboyant all-rounder last scored a half-century during the England ODI series in UAE earlier this year. He has managed to score only 41 (in four matches in Asia Cup), 28 (in four matches vs Sri Lanka) and seven (in two matches vs Australia).
Hafeez insisted that Afridi is still a match-winner. “I being the captain, would love to see a good performance from him,” he said.
Hafeez will be hopeful of Afridi firing after a few good performances with the bat and ball back home in domestic cricket. He scored a 90 and 28 for PCB Blues and Greens respectively a few weeks ago.
Hafeez is banking on the good mix of seniors and juniors in the team. “It will be a good experience for them in India because the crowds are always good. So, the pressure is always there, but you have to handle it. Our team is a mix of both experience and youth. We have Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal. It is a mixture of seniors and juniors,” he said.
Talking about the extra pressure of facing arch-rivals India, Hafeez said: “We will try our level best to play without pressure.
“We are very happy to be in India again to play some good cricket after a long time, as winning or losing will not make any difference to us.
“It is always a pleasure and a challenge playing against India wherever, as there is lot of passion and intensity in the game. It is the spirit of the game that matters, which is shared in both the countries,” he said.