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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Mohammed Hafeez: Teamwork behind Pakistan's T20 series success

Veteran batsmen delighted with team's performance in clinching clean-sweep over New Zealand with nine-wicket win in Dubai

Mohammad Hafeez plays a shot as he helps Pakistan canter to a nine-wicket win over New Zealand in Dubai on Sunday. AFP
Mohammad Hafeez plays a shot as he helps Pakistan canter to a nine-wicket win over New Zealand in Dubai on Sunday. AFP

Mohammed Hafeez thanked his Pakistan teammates for helping revive his international career, after being named player of the series after the 3-0 clean-sweep of New Zealand.

The 38-year-old batsman hit a sparkling 53 not out to set up the 47-run win in the third Twenty20 international at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night.

That took him to the top of the leading run-scorer charts for the series, in which he was out just once in three innings, and ended with an average of 132.

That capped a remarkable turnaround for a player who had been dropped from the side ahead of the Test series against Australia last month, having already had his central contract downgraded.

In the end, he earned a late recall to the Test side, made a hundred on his comeback to the team after two years out, and has maintained his fine form in the shortest format, too.

“I came back in the previous series, and credit to the way the team has supported before every performance,” Hafeez said.

“Whatever the situation, I try to handle it properly. What I am doing at the moment, it's working, and I just need to keep doing it and not change anything.

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“The way all the players are taking responsibility, in pressure situations, it is a great sign for the team moving forward.”

After coming to the wicket following a slow start for Pakistan in the third match of the series, on a slow, worn wicket, Hafeez and Babar Azam set about building a formidable total.

The duo, at opposition ends of the age and experience ranges, shared an alliance worth 94 for the second wicket.

It was the platform for a total of 166 for three that proved to be far beyond the tourists.

Babar top-scored with 79, and passed 1,000 runs in T20I cricket in the process, in just his 26th innings.

That is fewer than any of the great starts of the format, such as Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, or Brendon McCullum, has managed.

“I keep it simple, hit my shots when the ball is in my area,” Babar, 24, said.

“I take my chances, but my role is to play the full 20 overs, and if needs be, take chances.”

Kane Williamson provided a reminder than New Zealand will not be easy-beats over the one-day international and Test series that follow, with a sparkling innings of 60 in 38 balls.

It was in a losing cause, though, as the Black Caps collapsed from 96 for two to 119 all out.

“I think at the halfway stage, on that surface, that was a very good total from Pakistan,” Williamson, New Zealand’s captain, said.

“A lot of credit goes to the way they batted on it, after a very good powerplay from us. They managed to keep wickets in hand, which they have done very well throughout this series.

“We found it difficult to pull it back. They played superbly well. As for the batting, we knew a lot had to go our way.

“We did get some momentum there for a period of time, but we had to try and keep it up and, as we know in these conditions, things can change quite quickly.”