New Zealand hopes for no grudges from Pakistan in T20 World Cup

Two sides meet for the first time after New Zealand’s last-minute pullout from tour of Pakistan.

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.[Waseem Khan/Reuters]

Pakistan and New Zealand will meet on a cricket ground on Tuesday, the first time the two sides take on each other since the Kiwis’ last-minute withdrawal from their tour of Pakistan last month.

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.

Three days later, England cancelled its men’s and women’s teams’ tours of Pakistan scheduled for October citing the “mental and physical well-being” of the players.

The British high commissioner in Pakistan wrote on Twitter that he had not advised against the tour on security grounds and that the cricket board took the decision on its own.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hopes Pakistan will not hold any grudges after the abandonment of the tour when they meet on Tuesday.

“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. “I am sure the game will be played in the right spirit.”

The twin retreats prompted newly elected Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ramiz Raja to proclaim New Zealand will be one of the targets in the T20 World Cup.

“We had one team in our target, our neighbours [India], now add two more teams, New Zealand and England,” Raja said last month.

PCB’s outgoing Chief Executive Wasim Khan said at the time that a boycott of the T20 World Cup match was not on the cards.

“Right now there is no issue of us not playing New Zealand,” Khan said. “We have a duty to the fans and we have to fulfil that. I think we just need to be very careful in terms of the perspective. We don’t want to take that route showing any sort of political gesturing and posturing, and any sort of visible protest.”

Khan said the abandonment had created “political tensions” in the PCB’s relationship with New Zealand Cricket “because the way it was done was disrespectful”.

“We have done everything for other countries, our players have sacrificed 14 days of quarantine in New Zealand and went to New Zealand after an attack on the mosque,” said Khan in reference to the March 2019 attack in Christchurch.

“It’s easy to walk out of countries like Pakistan without any reason, without any dialogue and that has to stop.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand Cricket “made the right decision” to pull out of the tour.

“You will understand why we are not in a position to give further information as to the nature of the intelligence, other than to say, it was a direct threat, and it was a credible threat,” she said at the time.

Winning start for Pakistan

On Sunday, Pakistan thumped India by 10 wickets in the teams’ opening Super 12 match in Dubai.

Spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi took 3-31 to keep India to 151-7 in 20 overs before openers Mohammad Rizwan (79 not out) and skipper Babar Azam (68 not out) wiped off the target in just 17.5 overs.

Pakistan bowling coach Vernon Philander said for them the idea was not to get carried away after the memorable win against India.

“We had a meeting earlier and we highlighted the importance of staying grounded,” said the former South Africa bowler.

“Today’s talk was really about putting last night behind us and focus on what’s obviously to come tomorrow. Tomorrow’s going to be another big game. And hopefully, the boys will reset and be ready and focused for tomorrow.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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