Hafeez more focused on batting after bowling ban


Pakistan’s opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez admitted a ban on bowling has allowed him to concentrate more on batting, resulting in his fighting 151 against England in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old anchored Pakistan to 355 all out in their second innings, setting England a 284-run target for a series-levelling win.

England closed the fourth day on 46-2, needing another 238 runs with eight wickets intact on the fifth and final day on Thursday.

Hafeez, a utility off-break bowler, was banned for 12 months over an illegal bowling action in July — the second time in a year that his action had come into question.

“I always consider myself a batsman,” said Hafeez after scoring his ninth Test century. “But bowling has been a plus, played a vital role for me and for my team.

“So I am definitely disappointed on losing it but I will make a comeback. Without it my fatigue has been decreased and now I can concentrate more on my batting and it’s working.”

Pakistan will hope they clinch a 2-0 win which will lift them to number two in Test rankings.

Hafeez said it was one of his best knocks.

“I can say it’s one of my fine innings, because it wasn’t easy to bat on such sort of a pitch,” said Hafeez. “One has to take calculated risks and as a batsman it was frustrating because you were not able to pick up runs as the outfield is slow.

“I am happy that I am able to contribute and achieved what exactly we had wanted to as a team.”

Hafeez survived some anxious moments in the morning as England’s leg-spinner Adil Rashid came close to dismissing him twice before he reached the three-figure mark.

“I was nervous, to be honest, because I didn’t want to miss a hundred against England as previously I had a 95 in 2006, 88 in the last series (in 2012) and 98 in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

“So I wanted to take time and made sure I can do (it) this time. So it happens and I am glad I managed to cross the mark. This is the different pitch in Sharjah and the pervious experience here in the venue helped me and gave my confidence in building this innings.”

Hafeez expressed faith in Pakistan’s ability to make it 2-0 on Thursday.

“By getting two wickets, we are even more confident and the way our spinners are bowling the level of confidence is growing. The pitch is assisting the spinner and they are using it very well.

“Tomorrow we will manage to win the series 2-0.”