Pakistan’s interim head coach Saqlain Mushtaq declared that his team has “the mindset of champions” as they play Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup in Dubai on Friday.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Mushtaq said his team needs to be wary of a dangerous Afghanistan.
“We know Afghanistan is a very good team but our plans are well-placed and we need to execute those plans as we have done in the first two games,” he added.
The interim coach further said that T20 is a game in which one should expect highs and lows.
He said it is not easy to score big on pitches, one has to be technically strong while playing on such fields.
“Our players are well aware of these conditions, “Mushtaq said, adding that we have to make each and every match important, “we have to play with the same mindset.”
The 2009 champions thumped arch-rivals India by 10 wickets in their opening match followed by a nervy five-wicket win over New Zealand, making them well placed for the semi-finals.
“We are playing with the mindset of world champions,” Mushtaq said on Thursday, adding that the two wins have given the team the confidence and belief to achieve that goal.
Mushtaq replaced Misbah-ul-Haq, who resigned last month, and is bringing his experience as a spin-bowling consultant for England, Bangladesh, and New Zealand in the past.
It should be recalled that Afghanistan crushed qualifiers Scotland by 130 runs in their first Group 2 game with off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking 5-20 and leggie Rashid Khan 4-9.
Himself a great off-spinner who played 49 Tests and 169 one-day internationals for Pakistan, Mushtaq called Afghanistan’s spinners “world-class”.
“Rashid and Mujeeb are quality spinners and have been doing well for their team as well as in the private leagues around the world, but we have plans against them,” said Mushtaq.
Speaking about changes in the batting order, he said: “The entire team is playing well. We are happy with this combination.”
“We are not thinking of removing Fakhar Zaman from one down. He played well in warm-up matches.”
Mushtaq stated that the management is not planning to change the winning combination in the match against Afghanistan.
“To become a world champion, you have to play different cricket and then you have to play ahead of it.
“All the teams have come to win, England, and India were also being called favourites,” he underlined, adding that they are not thinking about who will compete next.
He praised the unity of his players, saying it has helped them achieve good results.
“Our theme is ‘together we achieve’ and it’s not ‘I did well’ or ‘he did well’, but it’s ‘we did well’ sort and that has helped us gel well.”
Mushtaq pointed out that Pakistan have played most of their cricket in recent years in the United Arab Emirates.
“These conditions of the UAE are very familiar for my players and we have been playing home international matches and Pakistan Super League games here and that has, and will, help our players.”
Pakistan will play Namibia on November 2 and Scotland five days later in the Super 12 stage.
But looking farther ahead, Mushtaq hopes to meet India again at the World Cup — this time in the final.
“If India comes in the final, then it would be very good for the International Cricket Council, fans around the world and for world cricket,” he said.
“That will bring the two countries closer. For me, it should be a win for love and defeat for hate.”