KARACHI: Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez on Thursday urged his
troops to get ready to give their best against India, stressing that the hosts’ recent Test series defeat against England doesn’t make them weak opponents in the two limited-overs formats. “I don’t think there are any favourites for the series,” Hafeez told reporters on the sidelines of a practice match at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium ahead of the brief series against India that explodes into action with a Twenty20 International in Bangalore on Christmas Day. “It’s pretty clear thatPakistanandIndiaare both quite balanced teams. Both of them excel in the subcontinent,” said the all-rounder. Indiawould go into the series againstPakistanafter suffering a surprise Test series loss againstEnglandat home. The result has forced some experts to questionIndia’s credentials in the lead up to the series againstPakistanthat will include two Twenty20 games and five One-day Internationals. However, Hafeez made it clear that he seesIndiaas a formidable team in limited-overs cricket. “Their defeat againstEnglandhas not turnedIndiainto weak opponents,” he said. “Their series against us would be a completely different ball game. I believeIndiahave depth in their team combination in limited-overs cricket.” Hafeez is confident thatPakistanwould give their best inIndia. “Pakistan-India matches are high-pressure games because of high expectations on both sides of the border. We are looking forward to give our best.” Pakistanhave not done well againstIndiain recent matches but the skipper believes that his team can turn the tide againstIndiaon the back of a good show from their pacers. “Our fast bowlers will have to perform. We have not managed wins againstIndiain recent outings because our pacers failed to give the sort of performance that they gave in the past.” Hafeez is hopeful that his pace-heavy bowling attack would deliver inIndia. “There are plenty of pace options in our (Twenty20) squad and I’m looking forward to making maximum use of them.” He is also pleased over Shahid Afridi’s return to form. The seasoned all-rounder was dropped from the one-day squad due to his indifferent form but was retained for the two Twenty20 games. However, a series of impressive outings with the bat in recent practice matches inLahoremight help Afridi in getting retained for the three ODI games inIndia. “I’m really happy to see Shahid Afridi regain his form and confidence in the practice games and wish him luck for the series againstIndia.” In the first warm-up match, Afridi scored 52 off 40 balls on Monday and then went on to smash 92 off 64 balls on Wednesday in another 50-over game. On Thursday, he clubbed 28 off 18 balls with the help of two towering sixers in a T20 match.