The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) received heavy criticism for naming Mohammad Hafeez as the stand-in captain for the second ODI against Australia at Melbourne after Azhar Ali injured his hamstring at Gabba, Brisbane. Having not donned Pakistan’s colours since the tour of England in August-September last year, Hafeez’s paltry four runs off seven balls in the first ODI made commentators sceptical about his place in the side, despite an effective show with the ball.
However, Pakistan ended their 12-year-long dry-run under the veteran all-rounder on Sunday to level the series 1-1 in a comprehensive six-wicket win, with Hafeez being awarded man-of-the-match for his 72 off 104 balls.
Speaking to reporters during a post-match press conference, the 36-year-old emphasised on how he remained positive during the days of his international wilderness – largely due to a knee injury.
“I was never negative, I knew I'll be back in the team at any stage,” said Hafeez, while accepting that his domestic performances of late have not been impressive.
"My performance was not good at the domestic level, but the management trusted my ability and asked me to come here and add the value to the team."
Talking about his side’s victory, Hafeez said: “This win was a special, special blessing … Everyone took that responsibility to do that job for Pakistan. Last game, we had our moments but we couldn't continue that pressure. We had a good team meeting and realised the importance of taking responsibility. Stats have changed, history has changed.
“Last game, when we had to put the pressure, our bowlers couldn't respond. In this match, our bowlers didn't let go of that attacking tendency. For me as a captain, and even the coach, we had to ensure we played attacking and positive cricket. We couldn't be negative and think about the past.
“If we had to chase a 250-plus score, it would have been very difficult. The bowlers got the wickets at the right time, which gave us the confidence to do everything we wanted to.”
Pakistan now heads to Perth for the third of the five-match series.