T20 World Cup: Hafeez banking on spinners, Jayawardene undaunted
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez credited the team's progress in the World Twenty20 to his slow bowlers on Wednesday and said he was banking on them to spin them to victory again in Thursday's semi-final against hosts Sri Lanka.
The 2009 champions have relied on spinners Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan, Shahid Afridi and Hafeez to compensate for their batting limitations and reach their fourth straight World Twenty20 semi-finals.
They will not find it easy against the Sri Lankan batsmen, most of whom play spin well, but Hafeez seemed to have unshakable faith in his spin bowlers.
"We as a team are blessed with some very good spinners and that's the main reason why we are doing well in this format," said Hafeez, an off-spinner himself.
"Our spinners are of quality and they have proved it in every condition. Spinners like Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and newcomer Raza Hasan are showing great talent," he said.
"Sri Lanka also plays spin well. But whatever conditions we have seen here, it suits the spinners."
Despite the spin-friendly conditions at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Hafeez sounded more wary about Sri Lanka's pace attack in the semi-final.
"We know that Sri Lanka has good seamers. (Nuwan) Kulasekera is playing a good role for them and (Lasith Malinga) is also there."
His Sri Lankan counterpart Mahela Jayawardene was not losing sleep over the Pakistani spinners and predicted a good contest on Thursday.
"We have played each other quite frequently and there have been good contests," Jayawardene told reporters.
"We have some quality guys and we play spin quite well. We need to make sure that certain things we execute, we execute it properly."
Jayawardene said Sri Lanka have finally found the right combination and it was now just a matter of performing to their potential.
"We have been planning for this tournament for three months or so when we played Pakistan and India in Twenty20 and ODIs. We knew the players we wanted in the squad.
"We have got the right combination going and the guys have put their hands up and performed. At the end of the day that's what matters in big tournaments," he added.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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