Mohammad Hafeez backs Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam

Mohammad Hafeez offered insights and commendations for player's efforts while assessing various facets of their gameplay

Mohammad Hafeez backs Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam PHOTO: AFP

Australia secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series against Pakistan with a commanding victory in the second Test on Friday.

Pakistan team director, Mohammad Hafeez offered insights and commendations for player's efforts while assessing various facets of their gameplay.

Addressing concerns surrounding Abdullah Shafique's fielding lapses and comfort in the slips, Hafeez highlighted the team's decision to reposition Babar Azam to first slip, emphasizing the importance of supporting teammates during challenging times. 

Acknowledging Shafique's fielding capabilities and attributing his possible discomfort to specific conditions, Hafeez emphasized the team's dedication to nurturing his confidence for a successful return to form.

"We noticed that Abdullah wasn't feeling comfortable in the middle. As a team member, you should always back your teammates when things are not going well for them. Consequently, we made the decision to send Babar to first slip instead," Hafeez said

"Abdullah Shafique used to do a really good job in the slips. Perhaps the Australian conditions did not suit him. I still believe that he is a good fielder. However, based on my personal experience as a slip fielder during my playing days, when confidence wanes, it takes some time to regain it, and we are committed to giving him that time," he added.

Praising Babar Azam's talent and resilience, Hafeez expressed optimism regarding an impending breakthrough innings since the right-handed batter couldn't score big in the ongoing Test series.

"Babar Azam is a brilliant player, and we are hopeful that his big innings is coming soon. Even in this innings, the fight he showed and the time he spent in the middle were very positive. The strike rotation, the skill, the defence, and the shot range—all indicate that the gears are in motion for a big innings. In my opinion, he has been performing really well in the nets," Hafeez said.

Reflecting on pivotal moments during the match, particularly the standout innings by Mohammad Rizwan and Salman Ali Agha, Hafeez highlighted the team's belief in each other's abilities. He cited instances when partnerships between Shan Masood and Babar Azam, as well as Rizwan's resilient performance, instilled hope in the team despite subsequent setbacks.

"Rizwan played a phenomenal innings, and he, along with Salman Ali Agha, gave us the feeling that they could win the game for Pakistan. We had a similar sense earlier when Shan and Babar were batting together. Even after Shan got out and then Babar followed, we still believed we could win the game because we have a lot of trust in each other. Unfortunately, after the Rizwan decision, our team couldn't fight back as it should have. Nevertheless, I believe we played very well—from Day 1 until the last half-hour of the game, we were in control," Hafeez said.

Hafeez also addressed the aggressive intent displayed by the team's batters, emphasizing the importance of playing with confidence and intent. He supported the batsmen's approach, exemplified by Saud Shakeel's execution of practiced shots.

"I'm happy with the intent of our batters. If a batter is confident in his shot and gets out playing with intent, then I have no problems with that. The shot Saud Shakeel got out on was practiced by him during the nets, and he was executing it well. There won't be repercussions for getting out like that," Hafeez remarked.

Hafeez also praised Shan Masood's leadership in embracing an aggressive intent in batting, aiming for a competitive run rate necessary to challenge the world's best teams.

"Shan is the leader of our batting. The intent we need in our batting, he is showing that and leading from the front. The best teams in the world play near 4 RPO (runs per over). If we don't play at that pace, we can never compete with them. Shan realized that and applied that aggressive intent to his game," he concluded.