Glenn Pocknall, the New Zealand interim head coach, vowed on Tuesday, how the visitors will be coming hard at Pakistan during the forthcoming One-day International series in Rawalpindi, despite the three matches not being part of the World Cup Super League — the qualification process for the 50-over mega event in 2023.
The status of those fixtures were changed to a standalone bilateral affair after it emerged that hosts Pakistan Cricket Board and the series broadcasters failed to hire an ICC-approved provider for the mandatory Decision Review System (DRS).
Pocknall — standing in for the regular Black Caps team boss Gary Stead — maintained his charges will be as competitive as possible when the first ball is delivered on Friday at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, just a few days after they were involved in a T20 series in Bangladesh, which the hosts won 3-2.
“I think the intensity will still be there. After all, we’re still two international cricket teams who are very keen to win. Pakistan haven’t had a New Zealand side for 18 years playing here, so that they’ll also want to win at home,” Pocknall stated during a virtual news conference from Islamabad.
“And likewise, we’ve come here to compete with them and are here to put our best foot forward. But look, it’s not easy. This is not an ICC qualifying series as such, but it’s certainly not going to dampen the level of intensity.
“I think international cricketers, always want to win the games for their country. So I think the passion, the intensity, the commitment, all those things will be evident on Friday. I promise you ….”
The 43-year-old Wellingtonian was pleased with the way New Zealand’s training session panned out on Monday evening.
“It was really, really good to get out there, actually to just get to a new stadium from our perspective. Training under lights was a bit of a novelty for some of us because we’re not really used to that,” Pocknall said. “So look, it was just bit of a run around to get a feel of the environment and the climate.
“In fact, I was going to say feel for the wind. But coming from Wellington [a city famous for being very windy], it’s certainly not the wind here that we have over in Wellington.
“So [we are] just getting a bit of an understanding training-wise and game-wise of our environment,over the next seven days. The guys were pretty eager to get out there and have a run around and had some balls, so to speak,” he added.
Pocknall revealed that coaching a national side means nothing for him because the preparations have to be spot on just as it would be working with a domestic team.
“I guess that makes my job a lot easier if everything starts coming off well. I can just rock up and tell people what to do in the nicest way possible. But there’s just a lot more resources available in terms of coaching staff management; you turn up at the ground and find, everything’s laid out in terms of drinks and the gears. Hotels, meals, everything’s just done for you.
“So, from that respect. Yeah, it’s been I guess good because domestically, it’s not like that you are kind of a jack of all trades during every little bits and pieces.
“Further down the line you look at things a bit more strategically along with Gary [Stead] back in New Zealand. Just look at selection, planning for this team and planning for the [T20] World Cup and what that looks like as regards playing roles and opportunities.
“Fortunately, I’m really enjoying working with [stand-in captain] Tom Latham and he’s a very experienced international cricketer; sit side by side with him and talk cricket and tactics and game plans,which all have been pretty, pretty cool. It’s been a bit of a dream, to be honest because watching a player that I’ve idolised on the TV and then having that opportunity to work with him.
“So absolutely loving the experience so far, and looking forward to what’s going to come the next couple of weeks in Pakistan,” Pocknall said.
The head coach didn’t expect spin to play a big part in the ODIs and the ensuing five-match Twenty20 series in Lahore, as it did during the Bangladesh tour.
“I think in terms of spinners, I don’t think it will be a major issue over here, and if anything to go by from the training facilities, spin will not play a bigger part as it did in Bangladesh where we encountered probably the most extreme conditions,” he stressed.
“I guess if we look at the ODI series here [last year] against Zimbabwe at Rawalpindi, a total between 250 and 280 seems a good score.
“Moreover, I believe from the information we’ve had from the brief training session the other evening, the roles for the bowlers will probably shift a bit because the fast bowlers will surely have a major say as compared to spinners, as we found out in Dhaka,” Pocknall concluded.