SHARJAH: Captain Kane Williamson hopes Pakistan will not hold any grudges over New Zealand abandoning a tour on security fears last month, when they meet in their Twenty20 World Cup match in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Pakistan cricket authorities were left fuming after New Zealand ended the tour minutes before the start of the first one-day international in Rawalpindi, citing an unspecified security alert.
Williamson, not part of the squad in Pakistan as he was playing in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates, played down talk of a grudge match.
“There are a lot of good relations within the two teams. Over the years they’ve played a lot against each other, and a number of players have played with each other, as well,” said Williamson on the eve of the match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. “I am sure the game will be played in the right spirit.”
A week after New Zealand left, England also withdrew their men’s and women’s teams from a tour to Pakistan due to concerns over the physical and mental health of the players.
Williamson, who admitted the decision to abandon the tour was based on New Zealand government advice, praised the Pakistan team.
“I suppose the focus now is here at the T20 World Cup, and no doubt after the performance last night, Pakistan have some momentum and are feeling pretty good about their cricket,” said Williamson.
Pakistan thumped arch-rivals India by 10 wickets in the teams’ opening Super 12 match in Dubai on Sunday.
Williamson labelled Pakistan as one of the ‘favourites’. “Yeah, I mean, it was a fantastic performance. I think Pakistan have come to the T20 World Cup full of confidence, having played in these conditions more than most.
“They certainly put it on show last [Sunday] night and showed why they’re one of the favourites in the competition. Tomorrow [Tuesday] I’m sure they’ll be very strong again, so for us, it’s focusing on the cricket that we want to play and trying to adjust to conditions.”
Williamson said Pakistan, who at third is ranked one place above New Zealand in T20, have a key blend of youth and experience.
“They’ve got a very well-balanced side, and also a great mix between youth and experience with Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik in the middle order, as well, which brings a lot of experience to the side.”
Pakistan bowling coach Vernon Philander, meanwhile, said his team has already put their momentous win over India ‘behind them’.
“Obviously it was a brilliant performance by the team yesterday [Sunday],” said Philander. “I think it also comes on the back of some hard work in the last two and a half weeks. So the boys are in a good space.
“Really Monday’s team talk was about putting last night behind us and to focus on what’s obviously to come tomorrow [Tuesday]. It will be another big game and hopefully the boys will reset and be ready and focused.”
PAKISTAN: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad
Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
NEW ZEALAND: Martin Guptill, Kane
Williamson (captain), Devon Conway, Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (England) and Michael Gough (England).
TV umpire: Paul Wilson (Australia).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021