PSL 2021: Martin Guptill ready to face the heat as Karachi Kings chase title double

New Zealand batsman admits he always struggles when temperature is high

New Zealand's Martin Guptill plays a shot during the third Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh in Auckland on April 1, 2021. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP)
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When Martin Guptill agreed to join defending champions Karachi Kings for the rescheduled second-half of the PSL, he might have thought the idea of a little sun sounded nice.

Then factor in the chance to get in some decent match practice in conditions that will be similar – and perhaps even completely identical by the time the tournament comes around – to the T20 World Cup later this year, then even better.

Temperatures back home in Auckland have been hovering around the 15-degree mark this week. Compare that to the UAE, where the summer is starting to bake. In Sweihan, near Al Ain, a temperature of 51.8 degrees was recorded on Sunday.

Karachi will restart their PSL campaign on Thursday against Multan Sultans, in the first of the double-header match days. The game will start at 5pm at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Guptill acknowledges the temperatures for the rest of this tournament will take some getting used to for everyone, but he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I always struggle with the heat unfortunately,” said Guptill, who was brought in as a replacement player following the league’s suspension.

“Coming from winter back at home, into the 40-odd degree heat is going to be a challenge. That sort of heat is something I will never be able to get comfortable with.

“But at the end of the day it is going to be the same for everyone here. From my side, it is going to be a case of making sure I am well hydrated going into the game, that I keep my fluids up, and that I don’t start cramping too early during a game.

“That is what I will be looking to do to try to combat the heat.”

The New Zealand opener has his mind fixed on helping Karachi retain the title they won in a similarly disrupted season last time out.

A by-product of his recruitment could be some handy acclimatisation with playing conditions that could be repeated later this year, on the global stage.

New recruits brought in for PSL 2021

The ICC are pressing ahead with planning for the T20 World Cup to be switched from India to the UAE in October and November.

For the likes of Guptill, and all the other players at the PSL who are eyeing an appearance in that competition, the next two weeks in the capital could prove beneficial.

“It is different to playing here to what it is back at home,” Guptill said.

“The likes of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali are going to be a big challenge over here. Slower balls are going to come into play as the tournament wears on and the pitches get a bit drier. It is going to be a great challenge, which I am looking forward to.”

As well as the weather, another challenge leading players continue to face is life on the road in biosecure bubbles.

According to David Miller, Peshawar Zalmi’s South African batsman, players need to find a way to adapt.

“It is very difficult to manage the bubbles over a period of time,” Miller said.

“It is OK if you come in for a tournament, but if you start going from tour to tour to tour, it does get very difficult.

“Leaving one tour, straight onto the next tour, having a quarantine for the next seven days, then still being in the bubble does get mentally draining.

“It is just about trying to find out what is the release that you have. You hear of a lot of players having mental issues with the challenges around bubble life.

“I don’t think it is going to be going away anytime soon. So as players, teams and management, I think we need to come to a place where we can eventually make this work.

“I don’t think it is healthy to be doing this for months on end, but I have accepted the fact that, I want to play cricket so I need to be here.”