The first ODI in Rawalpindi on Friday (September 17) will mark New Zealand's first international appearance in Pakistan in close to 18 years. While acknowledging that it will be a special occasion for the hosts, New Zealand's stand-in skipper Tom Latham added that his team will be up for the challenge despite the unfamiliarity with the conditions.
“We know it is special for Pakistan to have cricket in their country and we are excited to be here. Pakistan are a quality side and they have some talented white-ball players in their line-up. We have the desired fire-power in our ranks to win this series and I am sure our batters and bowlers will rise to the occasion and make this historic series memorable for us,” Latham said on the eve of the opening game.
Prior to this series, New Zealand suffered a 2-3 loss in the T20I series in Bangladesh with spin playing a major role in the outcome of the series. Latham, however, insisted that the pace bowlers might find the conditions in Pakistan a bit more in their favour than Bangladesh where change of pace and variations proved crucial.
“Yeah, obviously in Bangladesh, the surfaces dictated the sort of variations that the bowlers needed to bowl whereas potentially here, we're a little bit unsure – we haven't played in these conditions before. For us, it's about trying to adapt to the conditions and try to think on our feet a little bit and obviously, we have some good fast bowlers in our group and they probably enjoyed seeing the ball go through a little bit more than what it did in Bangladesh. I'm sure they will be excited to get into the game tomorrow like we all will be,” said the New Zealand captain.
New Zealand, though, will be without the services of wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell who was ruled out of the series with a left-quad strain. In this scenario, Latham will have to juggle between multiple roles – wicketkeeper, captain and a middle-order batsman – which he's ready to embrace.
“Each facet has had its difficulties, but that's my role in the side. It's important… whether it's batting it's adapting to the situation, whereas from the captaincy point of view we're lucky we have a few leaders in the group and have tried to instil a bit of confidence into the guys and I trust them if they want to make changes.
“Obviously, we quite didn't get the series win that we wanted in Bangladesh, but the guys have been building really nicely over the last couple of weeks, adapting to conditions [in Bangladesh] and we've been doing the same here, adapting to conditions in Pakistan, so hopefully we can hit the ground running tomorrow.
“I have my role in the middle order and it's about trying to execute that role as best as possible. The role that I'm in is a slightly different one where you could be in a lot of different situations, so just trying to adapt to that as best as possible and work with the partner and work with the group – whether it's putting a score on the board or chasing a score down. I certainly don't see it (captaincy) as added pressure, so it's just about trying to execute my role as best as possible,” added Latham.