- Match likely to attract more attention than usual in the backdrop of New Zealand’s abrupt departure from Pakistan
- Stead, however, says 'it’s no different to any other match we play against them'
New Zealand's cricket team coach Gary Stead underplayed hype over his team's upcoming ICC T20 World Cup encounter against Pakistan, saying that players would treat it like any other fixture.
New Zealand are scheduled to kick off their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 26 in Sharjah. The match is likely to attract more attention than usual in the backdrop of New Zealand’s abrupt departure from Pakistan after they cited a "security alert" on the day of the first One-Day International in Rawalpindi.
The decision, which Islamabad maintains was taken unilaterally, left the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) fuming over financial and reputation losses as it bid to host regular international cricket after being shunned since 2009. New Zealand's tour to Pakistan was the first in 18 years.
Stead said there will be hype around the fixture. “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,” Stuff.co.nz quoted Stead as saying.
Dejected by the sudden cancellation, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja also instructed his players to ‘vent your frustration and anger’ against the Kiwis, two days after another big match against arch-rivals India.
Stead conceded that what happened in Pakistan was "unsettling and disappointing" and sympathised with the Pakistan cricket fraternity and fans.
“That decision was out of our hands, and 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.”
When asked about players getting death threats, the NZ coach said he was unaware of the situation.
“Sometimes you don’t get made aware of everything, either. It’s really hard for me to comment on,” Stead added.
Stead added that most of the players had served the mandatory quarantine after flying out of Pakistan and were in "good spirits" for the upcoming mega event.