‘Unpredictable’ Pakistan always a challenge: NZ coach

New Zealand, with wins over India and Australia, has emerged as one of the strong contenders to lift the coveted trophy on April 3. Another win and it will be in the knockout stages of the mega event.

New Zealand head coach Mike Hesson addressing a press conference in Mohali on Monday.   -  THE HINDU

New Zealand may be on a roll having notched up two big wins in the ICC World T20 but coach Mike Hesson today sought to downplay the hype surrounding his team, saying tomorrow’s match against Pakistan will be a challenge because of their unpredictability and pace attack.

Victories against favourites India and Australia notwithstanding, Hesson said they guarantee nothing. “We don’t think too far ahead of ourselves, we had a couple of good games of cricket against some good sides, I think we have played pretty well, but it doesn’t guarantee that you are going to play well next time. It’s important we train well today and prepare as best we can,” Hesson said, addressing a press conference on the eve of the match.

Asked if he thinks Pakistan is an unpredictable side, the coach replied in the affirmative. “Yes, they are unpredictable, but very skillful.”

Pace test

He pointed out that Pakistan has got a variety of left-arm pacers in its bowling attack. “Their bowling attack, in particular, is very challenging. I think Pakistan certainly pose a different challenge with the pace they have and their bowling attack is completely different than what we have faced in the last couple of games.”

At the same time the coach also said, “We are fortunate enough we played against them in recent times. I think as a batting unit, they are relatively predictable the way they play, and that certainly provides us with opportunities with the ball.”

New Zealand has emerged as one of the strong contenders to lift the coveted trophy on April 3. Another win and it will be in the knockout stages of the mega event. While the spinners stood out in both games with a bagful of wickets on pitches that aided turn, left-arm medium pacer >Mitchell McClenaghan proved to be Australia’s nemesis with a three-wicket burst in hilly Dharamsala.

Adapting to conditions

To another question, Hesson said they would pick the squad to suit all conditions. “I think perhaps in the past, we have tried to play the New Zealand way in the sub-continent, in terms of what has worked well for us. I think during this tournament till date, it’s only two games, but I think we have adapted a lot better than perhaps we have in the past. That said, this pitch will create different challenges for us and we will have to read it properly,” he said.

On the dominance of ball over bat in quite a few matches in this event, Hesson said, “I think it has been quite two distinctive poles, I think further up north the ball has spun and turned and created some different experiences than normal, but obviously down Mumbai there has been a lot of runs as well, so I think the contrast is good, but to a degree. You don’t want anything that is too one-sided.”

About criteria of selecting team in the sub-conditions, he said a lot of things go into it but in the end “we just pick the team we think suits the conditions and the opposition as well”.

About Indian pitches, he said, “I think it is important to make your own assessment with what you see and make your own judgement there.”

On the usage of technology, the Kiwi said: “I think it is always a combination; the more information you are able to gather, you can use your cricket knowledge to add to that.”

Meanwhile, he had a word of praise for young spinner of Indian origin Ish Sodhi, saying he has learnt the ropes over the last few years. PTI