Haris Rauf says focused on cricket, not criticism at T20 World Cup
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Pakistani fast bowler Haris Rauf on Saturday said the team was trying to shut out the noise and focus after a torrent of criticism over their shock loss to Zimbabwe at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Pakistan will take on the Netherlands in Perth on Sunday to try and stay alive in the tournament after nailbiting one-run defeats to Zimbabwe and arch-rivals India.
Former Pakistani stars including Shoaib Akhtar and Javed Miandad slammed the team for their poor start to the World Cup, describing their batting as "shameful" during the loss to Zimbabwe.
"It is people's job to talk, so they will talk. You face criticism in any sport you play," Rauf told reporters.
"We have come here to play a tournament and our focus is on that. So we try not to listen to them (ex-players and pundits) much and play our game. Even some positive talk can hurt you and negative talk can also hurt you."
Pakistan witnessed a special performance in their first match of the tournament from superstar batsman Virat Kohli as India chased down 160 on the final ball at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground.
But it was the second loss against the 11th-ranked Zimbabwe that stung their supporters more as the Pakistani batting lineup choked while chasing a modest 130.
They ended a run short of Zimbabwe's total, with two run-outs on the last two balls of the innings.
- 'We have belief' -
Rauf said despite the defeats, morale was high in the Pakistani camp.
"We haven't had the kind of start that we wanted. But the team morale is good," the paceman said, adding that the games against Zimbabwe and India were close.
"There is hurt but we have belief in each other's abilities. We have bonded well, sat together and tried to address our mistakes," he said.
And while the Netherlands have also lost both their Super 12 matches, Rauf stressed that Pakistan will not be taking the challenge lightly.
"There is no weak or strong team in a World Cup. Everyone playing an international game and has come to win the cup," said Rauf.
Netherlands coach Ryan Cook said Saturday his team was ready for the Pakistan clash.
"We've obviously seen that Pakistan team is beatable, so that's good to know," said Cook.
"Playing them in the World Super League not so long ago in the Netherlands has given us a lot of confidence because we came quite close in those matches. Hoping to get over the line this time."
Confident Zimbabwe see 'huge' chance to make semis
Confident skipper Craig Ervine said Saturday that Zimbabwe had a "huge" chance to reach the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals, praising new coach Dave Houghton for instilling belief in the team.
The African nation, who came through the first round in Australia to make the Super 12, pulled off a stunning one-run upset over Pakistan on Thursday.
It came on the back of them sharing the points with South Africa from a washed-out game, leaving them level on three points with the Proteas and one behind Group 2 leaders India.
Zimbabwe face Bangladesh next in Brisbane on Sunday, followed by the Netherlands and heavyweights India.
"Look, we've got a huge chance to make the semis," said Ervine.
"Again, it requires us to win against Bangladesh and also to beat (the) Netherlands, and then we've got our final game against India, and depending on some other results."
"The guys, obviously got their tails up," he added. "We've got a lot of confidence obviously with the win against Pakistan, but we just know how fragile this game is and how quickly it can turn around.
"But we can't look too far ahead right now. I think we're probably just looking at tomorrow and trying to concentrate on tomorrow's game."
Zimbabwe are in the Super 12 for the first time, turning a corner since Houghton, the country's first Test captain back in 1992, was appointed for his second stint as national coach in July.
He steered them through the qualifying tournament and to a point where Ervine is talking about a semi-final chance.
Ervine said Houghton, considered one of Zimbabwe's best batsmen, had brought a new approach, along with huge respect.
"When Dave took over, he basically changed the way that we did our training, and installed a lot of belief back into each and every player," he said.
"Every time he speaks, you can just look around the room and you can tell that everybody is paying attention. Everybody is taking it in. Everybody respects him.
"He's managed to just change the mentality of every single player in the squad, and I think through the performances, I think it's reassured everybody that what Dave is doing for us works."