|Player:||Mohammad Hafeez, Inzamam-ul-Haq|
|Event:||ICC World Cup 2006/07|
DateLine: 10th March 2007
Pakistan have found a surprise match-winner in opener Mohammad Hafeez, who played a crucial role in his team's two successive victories in the World Cup warm-up matches.
Hafeez followed his 61 in the opening practice game against Canada with an attractive 49 in his team's seven-wicket victory over South Africa, promising to solve Pakistan's problems of finding an effective opener.
He put his team on the right track against Graeme Smith's South Africans here on Friday as he shared a 68-run stand for the second wicket with Younis Khan, who top-scored with a stylish 79.
Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was all praise for Hafeez, saying it served the team better whenever a top-order batsman scored at a brisk pace.
"Hafeez is in form and he is the key member of the team. He is now looking forward to the main competition. It always helps when a top-order batsman scores briskly," said Inzamam.
Pakistan faced no difficulty in surpassing South Africa's modest total of 199, with Younis, Hafeez and Mohammad Yousuf (48 not out) all gaining batting practice ahead of their opening World Cup clash against the West Indies in Jamaica on Tuesday.
Inzamam said the team's confidence was sky-high after two consecutive wins.
"There is a lot of confidence in the team and they are looking forward to the main tournament after morale-boosting performances," he said.
"Yes, people don't have high expectations from Pakistan, so there is less pressure. But at the same time, the team have to come out and perform to the best of their ability."
The Pakistani captain conceded the conditions were difficult for batting in the morning session when the track was wet.
South Africa could manage just 199, with Loots Bosman top-scoring with a solid 53.
"The conditions were difficult for the team that batted first and there was a bit of concern," he said.
When asked whether the pitches in the World Cup would favour sub-continental sides, he said: "It is the quality of cricket and not the state of the wicket that matters.
"Teams have to come out and perform to the best of their ability and adapt to any kind of situation."
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said he was satisfied with his team's performances in both warm-up games.
"I think we are fortunate that everyone got the much-needed practice," he said.
"All top six batsmen have got good practice. As far as the win goes, since it was 13-a-side match, we do take it with a pinch of salt. We now need to win the main matches."
He hoped his team would keep the momentum going in the main competition.
"This is the World Cup, a big stage and everyone has to perform. Our team have done well in practice matches, but we have to maintain that intensity and the aggression throughout the tournament," said Woolmer.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)