New Zealand coach urges players to block out hype around T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan


Wellington, SEPT 26: New Zealand cricket team coach Gary Stead has urged his players to block out the hype around next month’s Twenty20 World Cup opener against Pakistan, which is likely to have far more attention than usual due to the Kiwis’ abrupt abandoning of their Pakistan tour earlier this month.

On Sept 17, the Kiwis had dropped a bombshell on Pakistan cricket by quitting their much anticipated tour of Pakistan minutes before the toss for first ODI, and cited a ‘security threat’. They angered Pakistan’s cricket fraternity even more by refusing to share the exact nature of the threat.

Their decision was followed by a similar one taken by England, denting Pakistan Cricket Board’s years worth of efforts to bring back top-level international cricket to Pakistan. With New Zealand and Pakistan set to meet in the UAE next month as part of the World T20, their coach has told his charges to block out the noise.

“Certainly, being that it’s Pakistan, people will hype that up, but for us it’s no different to any other match we play against them,” the website quoted the coach as saying.

The Kiwi team will begin their WorldT20 campaign against Pakistan on Oct 26 at Sharjah — a couple of days after Pakistan’s hotly-anticipated opener against its arch-rival India on Oct 24 at Dubai.

Stead admitted that the decision to abandon the tour was “disappointing” and “unsettling” for the Pakistan cricket fraternity and fans but explained that it was not the team’s decision to make.

“Sometimes you don’t get made aware of everything, either. It’s really hard for me to comment on” Stead said.

He insisted that the “decision was out of our hands”, adding “the guys are now in Dubai and getting ready, and there’s the IPL that they can have a good look at, which in many ways is good preparation for them as well.”

He said that the five players who were meant to be starting a five-match T20 series in Pakistan were in good spirits and had begun training in the UAE.