Pakistan’s interim head coach, Saqlain Mushtaq, said his team has “the mindset of champions” as they prepare to face Afghanistan in the Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai on Friday.
The 2009 champions thrashed archrivals India by 10 wickets in their first match, followed by a nail-biting five-wicket win over New Zealand, putting them in a strong position for the semi-finals.
“We’re playing with a world champion’s mindset,” Saqlain said on Thursday.
“The two victories have given us the confidence and belief that we need to achieve that goal.”
Saqlain took over for Misbah-ul-Haq, who resigned last month, and brings with his previous experience as a spin-bowling consultant for England, Bangladesh, and New Zealand.
Saqlain warned his team to be cautious in a dangerous Afghanistan.
“We know Afghanistan is a very good team,” he added, “but our plans are well-placed, and we need to execute those plans as we have in the first two games.”
Afghanistan defeated Scotland by 130 runs in their first Group 2 game, with off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking 5-20 and leggie Rashid Khan taking 4-9.
Saqlain, a great off-spinner who played 49 Tests and 169 one-day internationals for Pakistan, described Afghanistan’s spinners as “world-class.”
“Rashid and Mujeeb are quality spinners who have done well for their team as well as in private leagues around the world, but we have plans for them,” Saqlain said.
He praised his team’s unity, saying it helped them achieve good results.
“Our theme is ‘together we achieve,’ and it’s not ‘I did well,’ or ‘he did well,’ but ‘we did well,’ and it’s helped us gel well.”
Saqlain pointed out that Pakistan has spent the majority of the last few years playing cricket in the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan will play Namibia in the Super 12 stage on November 2 and Scotland five days later.
Looking ahead, Saqlain hopes to face India again in the World Cup final, this time in the semifinals.
“It would be very good for the International Cricket Council, fans all over the world, and world cricket if India made it to the final,” he said.
“This will bring the two countries closer together.” It should be a victory for love and a defeat for hate, in my opinion.”