Misbah, Hafeez deny reports of rift between them

Lahore, April 10 (IANS) Pakistan Test and ODI skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Twenty20 captain Mohammed Hafeez Wednesday denied reports of rifts between them and said that such rumours are taking a toll on the team’s performance.

Following the team’s poor performance in South Africa, which the media attributed to the differences between Misbah and Hafeez, former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) president Ijaz Butt added fuel to the controversy by saying Hafeez has teamed up with coach Dav Whatmore to isolate Misbah.

“Both Hafeez and Whatmore support and back each other and that has put great pressure on Misbah, affecting his performance,” Butt was quoted as saying by The Dawn.

Misbah and Hafeez, speaking at a joint press conference held here Wednesday, refuted the allegations and said allegations by Butt were damaging the country’s cricket.

“Ijaz Butt is a senior and respected person. He should have thought once before making such statement, because it affects a country’s image,” said Hafeez, who was sitting alongside Misbah.

Misbah, who had earlier also denied reports of rifts in the team, said Pakistan were outplayed by South Africa. Pakistan were whitewashed 0-3 in the Test series and 2-3 in the ODI series.

“I have said this earlier in South Africa also and now I am again repeating myself that we lost because South Africa were a better team. Reports of rifts in the team are baseless,” said Misbah.

Hafeez, who took over the T20 captaincy from Misbah last year, said such reports are not taking Pakistan cricket anywhere.

“Such baseless reports of differences do not help,” said Hafeez.

Misbah hoped Pakistan will do well in the eight-nation Champions Trophy in England in June.

“Pakistan have done well in England so I am quite hopeful that we will achieve good results in the Champions Trophy,” he said.

Pakistan are clubbed with India, South Africa and the West Indies in one group while defending champions Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand are in the other pool.

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