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Sports

June 19, 2017

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Hafeez shines in ‘last’ ODI knock

Hafeez shines in ‘last’ ODI knock

LONDON: In the lead up to the ICC Champions Trophy final against India, there were murmurs in the Pakistan camp that this could be Mohammad Hafeez’s last international outing for his country.

Hafeez, it seems, overheard it.

The veteran batsman, who was dropped to number five in the batting order on Sunday, hit an unusually brisk 57 (not out) from just 37 balls to enable Pakistan to reach 338-4 in the title clash.

The 36-year-old Hafeez joined Babar Azam on the crease in the 40th over with Pakistan looking for some impetus at 247-3. While Babar decided against switching to the big-hitting mode, Hafeez attacked the Indian bowlers right from the word go.

It was an unusual approach from Hafeez, who usually takes his time to settle down and seldom chooses the long handle. His tendency to play out too many dot balls is one of the reasons why there have been calls from various quarters to axe him from Pakistan’s limited-overs squad.

But Hafeez, who has played 50 Tests and 190 One-day Internationals since making his debut for Pakistan in 2003, appeared to be a different batsman altogether in batting-friendly conditions at The Oval on Sunday.

He hit three sixes and four fours and narrowly missed scoring the fastest fifty in an ICC tournament. It was Hafeez’s first fifty in the Champions Trophy after scores of 33, 26, 1, 31* in Pakistan’s previous four games earlier in the tournament.

If Pakistan were in fact thinking about axing him after the Champions Trophy they might have to think again after witnessing his big-hitting abilities at The Oval on Sunday.

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