Karachi: Proudly leading the Lahore Lions into the Champions League Twenty20, Pakistan all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez said that his team has the firepower and ability to handle pressure and make it to the main draw of the lucrative league.
The Lahore Lions squad, which leaves tonight will play their qualifying matches at Raipur to find out if they can qualify for the main rounds - a feat that no other Pakistan outfit has ever achieved.
"It is a tough challenge for us but the fact that we are playing in India is a big spur on for the players and what gives me confidence is our team combination," Hafeez told PTI in an interview today.
"We have six international players (Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Aizaz Cheema) all of whom have proven they can handle pressure of playing in a big event and in front of big crowds. And the other players are also battle hardened and capable of winning matches on their own," Hafeez said.
The non-international players include a budding all-round leg-spinner Saad Naseem, spinners Adnan Rasool, Mustafa Ali and Ali Manzoor, batsman Hamad Butt and pacer Imran Ali.
All the players have done well at the domestic level except for a little-known Ali Manzoor.
"The key to success will be how we handle pressure. If we can do that we can play in the main rounds. Our preparations as a team have not been ideal for such a big event but we know it is a big platform for us to enhance Pakistan cricket's image and bring joy to our countrymen," Hafeez said.
The former Pakistan T20 captain who has played before in India said that his team would have three days in India to organize themselves and gel as a unit.
"The heavy rains in Lahore have affected our preparations and then the board also scheduled fitness tests so yes our preparations have not been what we would have liked."
"I have already told them that when as a Pakistani you play in India there is lot of pressure and also expectations from you. Not only from your own people but also the Indian crowds who have respect for our cricket and our cricket achievements," he added.