Williamson hopes Pakistan v New Zealand 'played in right spirit' amid cancelled series row

Black Caps take on Babar Azam's side in a T20 World Cup Super 12 clash in Sharjah on Monday

Given how glorious their most recent past has been, Pakistan might have forgotten they are supposed to be going into their next T20 World Cup assignment bearing a grudge.

When New Zealand cancelled their series in Pakistan last month due to a security threat, it was met with anger from the hosts.

“Which world is NZ living in,” Ramiz Raja, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, asked back then.

Even Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain who has proved over the past week that he is not given to hyperbole, took to social media to lambast the decision.

“Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan cricket fans,” Babar said on Twitter. “I've full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies."

In cyberspace, supporters demanded revenge on October 26 in the World Cup in Sharjah.

Now the day has arrived, and everyone has been distracted by entirely good news. Namely, the ending of a 29-year hex by way of their stunning, 10-wicket win over India on Sunday night – their first win over their greatest rivals in World Cup cricket.

On the eve of their next encounter, Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s captain, did have to broach the topic of the cancellation.

He straight batted it with typical poise, saying it had been a “really disappointing situation”, and said he expected the Super 12 game to be “played in the right spirit”.

And anyway, all anyone really cares about now is getting another glimpse of the heroes of Sunday night, like Babar, Mohammed Rizwan, and Shaheen Afridi.

“We have highlighted the importance of staying grounded,” Vernon Philander, Pakistan’s consultant bowling coach, said.

“It was a massive win for the boys, make no mistake about it. But we also have a tournament at hand and it is important we stay focused.

“Today’s talk was about putting last night behind us and focusing on what is going to come [against New Zealand]. It is going to be another big game, and hopefully the boys will reset and be ready.”

Of the Pakistan bowling attack, Philander said that “from a skill point of view, they are some of the best I have ever seen”, and he labelled Shaheen a “wonderful talent”.

“He is a brilliant bowler,” said Philander, the former South Africa seamer who was brought into the Pakistan coaching set up for this competition after Waqar Younis stepped down.

“You have to be able to give him the freedom to strike. That is what we discussed.

“You want to encourage the guy to keep being positive. Obviously, if you strike with the new ball, you are putting your side ahead in the game.

“I would like to encourage him to keep going ahead with that trend. For me, consistency is important, but like we all know, bowlers win you games in T20 cricket.

“We want to make sure they keep having a positive outlook on the game.”

Updated: October 26th 2021, 7:53 AM
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