New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson thinks that Pakistan have come with full confidence to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. He added that Pakistans 10-wicket thrashing of India on Sunday in Dubai was a proof of why the 2009 champions are deemed as one of the favourites in the competition. New Zealand kick-start their campaign in the tournament against Pakistan in a Group 2 match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
“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 night and showed why they’re one of the favourites in the competition,” said Williamson in the pre-match press conference on Monday.
“Tomorrow 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. I think we’ll see throughout this tournament at the three different venues that each venue will probably playing a little bit differently, so that will be an important factor for us,” added Williamson.
Williamson mentioned about the mix of youth and experience in a very well-balanced Pakistan squad. “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. You mentioned Rizwan and Babar at the top of the order who have been formidable in terms of their partnership and the quality that they bring.”
“A very well-balanced side and also a side that’s very accustomed to playing conditions and playing cricket here in the UAE. Without a doubt they’re coming into this tournament feeling pretty good about their chances, but having said that, in tournament sport and particularly in T20 cricket, every team, I think, turns up with confidence knowing that on their day, anything can happen.”
This will also be the first time New Zealand and Pakistan will face in a T20I after the Blackcaps abandoned the white-ball tour of Pakistan, minutes before the start of the first ODI in Rawalpindi. This also resulted in England cancelling white-ball tour as well. Williamson hoped that there won’t be grudges between the two teams.
“It was a really disappointing situation. I know the team that were there were very much looking forward to the occasion and playing cricket over in Pakistan, and it was a real shame that it wasn’t able to go ahead. But there are also 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. I’m sure it’ll be played in the right spirit, but no doubt Pakistan will be well supported, as they always are here in the UAE.”
Williamson signed off by saying that he was fit to captain New Zealand on Tuesday. “There’s been a few. But I believe everybody currently is fit or fit enough. My elbow is improving. It’s just been an ongoing sort of challenge to deal with it regarding loading and these sorts of things. It’s just a work in progress. But I think all in all, it’s showing improvement, which is good.”