New Zealand cricket coach Glenn Pocknall on Tuesday said his team were ready to have a crack at Pakistan, insisting the heavy security surrounding the players would not be a distraction.
International cricket in Pakistan was suspended in the aftermath of terror attacks on the Sri Lanka side in 2009, but has been slowly revived over the past two years.
“I think we are now used to [the security] in some way, coming from Bangladesh where we had convoys for two weeks. So, it’s just an extension to what we had over there,” said Pocknall, standing in for the rested regular coach, Gary Stead.
“The players are really excited to be here, it’s been a long time coming, so they are all grateful to have this opportunity … and to have a crack at this very good Pakistan team,” he said at a Zoom media conference.
New Zealand arrived in two batches this past Saturday and early on Sunday, welcomed with a level of security usually reserved for visiting heads of state that included armed guards escorting their bulletproof buses.
The Black Caps squad, who are returning for the first time since 2003, are staying in an Islamabad hotel guarded by a heavy paramilitary and a police contingent.
They have come from Bangladesh, where they were beaten 2-3 in the T20I series.
New Zealand opener Martin Guptill – who arrived early on Sunday – described how the team were off the plane and straight into an armoured van.
“We had a dozen or so police cars behind us, and armed soldiers around us at all times, and a lot of cars in the motorcade. We felt as though we were extremely safe,” Guptill said at a Zoom media conference on Monday.
“There is a little bit of nerves but they’re there to protect us,” he said, adding the team were excited to get on the field.
Their first ODI against Pakistan will be held in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, just next to the capital Islamabad, followed by two further Tests on Sunday and Tuesday.
The two teams will also play five T20Is – all in Lahore.
The Sri Lanka cricket team were the first to return to Pakistan in 2019, while South Africa visited for a tour in January after a 14-year gap.
© Agence France-Presse