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‘Security has been…’: NZ batsman on teams touring Pakistan


NEW DELHI: In 2021, the New Zealand cricket team abruptly withdrew from a tour of Pakistan due to security concerns. However, they have since visited the country twice in 2023.

With less than two months remaining until the ICC T20 World Cup commences in the West Indies and the USA from June 1-29, New Zealand are scheduled to play five T20Is in Pakistan to finalise their squad for the prestigious event.

New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls expresses his confidence in the safety in Pakistan.

The New Zealand team has already arrived in Pakistan and is set to commence the five-match series on Thursday at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

TimesofIndia.com caught up with Nicholls, who was part of the New Zealand team which lost the pulsating 2109 ICC ODI World Cup final to England, in an exclusive interview and spoke about playing cricket in Pakistan, ODI World Cup 2019 final, T20 World Cup and much more..


New Zealand are set to play a five-match T20I series vs Pakistan. How big preparation will this be for New Zealand ahead of the T20 World Cup?

It’s massive. It’s obviously the last time that the team, the T20 side, plays any international games before the World Cup. While a few guys are missing due to the IPL at the moment, it’s certainly a great opportunity for other guys to get an opportunity. And I think we’ve seen in the last couple of years, certainly for us as a country, the number of domestic cricketers who have come through with an opportunity have really grasped it.

So, I’m certainly excited to watch that. There’s a couple of really promising young players and they’ve certainly got into the top of the order. Tim Robinson had a massive impact in our Super Smash competition. It would be great to watch him take on a really good Pakistan side.

This will be New Zealand’s third visit to the country in the last 17 months. How safe is Pakistan for cricketers in terms of security and safety?

We seem to have been there a bit in the last few years.

From the players’ point of view, we feel incredibly safe. We’ve been looked after really well by Pakistan when we’ve been there. Each time I’ve been there, I felt safe and the security has been top-notch.


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You were the highest scorer for New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup final. Does the final heartbreak still hurt you?

I actually thought the other day, it’s been a while since I’ve been asked about the 2019 World Cup final.

And like you say, obviously being the top scorer was nice. To get one more run would have been nice as well. But it was just a remarkable day of cricket. In the World Cup final, you don’t often get the best game of cricket, but that’s probably one of the best games of One-Day cricket that’s ever been played. And for it to be on that occasion at Lord’s was amazing to be a part of. Obviously, incredibly disappointing for us to lose in that manner.

But we’re proud of the whole squad. It was a long tournament in England with a lot of support from back home and even now, five years on, I get people coming up to me and just saying how amazing that final bit of the whole tournament was and how proud everyone in New Zealand was of the team. Obviously, heartbroken but we’ll carry that with us forever. We know that we did everything we could to put our best foot forward to winning that final and it just wasn’t meant to be, which is the case sometimes in cricket.

How do you see New Zealand’s T20 World Cup chances this time?

Yeah, I think, you know, in all formats, every tournament we’re in, New Zealand seem to really put our hands up. I think we saw that at the One-Day World Cup final as well. When you get to those semi-final and final stages, you know, while I’m sure everyone would have wanted to win more than the one, we know that it is a one-off occasion. So, if we’re able to play some good cricket and the team can get themselves into those semi-final situations, then anything can happen, especially in T20 cricket.

We’ve got a really strong side. We see that by the number of players, who are playing in the IPL at the moment and other competitions around the world, that the strength is there and that it hopefully clicks for the team. It could be a really exciting tournament as a player, but also as a fan of the T20 side.

Any two key players that you want to pick who can turn the tables?

It’d be interesting to see the makeup of the side, but I think, you know, certainly in the last few years, someone like Glenn Phillips has had a massive impact on the squad.

He’s bowling more as well. And then a name that everyone will be familiar with now, Rachin Ravindra, and the impact he’s had immediately, playing for Chennai Super Kings at the moment, doing incredibly well. So, those two players probably for me are young and exciting talents that will be playing for the team for a long time, but certainly also have a big impact hopefully in this upcoming T20 World Cup.

What are Henry Nichol’s four semi-finalists in the T20 World Cup and why?

Obviously, New Zealand will be there.

India as well. I think West Indies too considering it’s a home tournament for them. I know a few of their franchise guys have committed to playing in the World Cup. So, I think they could certainly be a bit of a bolter. And then between the others, you know, I think probably England are looking to put their foot forward after the One-Day World Cup. We know the amount of firepower they have. So, I’d say those four would probably be my contenders.

A New Zealand-India final and hopefully a New Zealand win.


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How much will Team India needs Virat Kohli in the T20 World Cup?

Virat Kohli, he’s been one of the greats of our game for a long time. I consider myself lucky to have played against him and know how much of a competitor he is. So I see his form at the moment in the IPL as well, scoring a lot of runs. Anytime he’s playing well and, you know, leading from the front with the bat, that makes India even more of a dangerous team than they always are.

Which two India players can play key roles in the T20 World Cup campaign and why?

I’ve got a few options to go through in players, but I think,I’m not sure on the status of Rishabh Pant, but he’s somewhat available now. I mean, that’d be just an awesome story for him. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to make the World Cup squad, but I know when he’s playing, he’s just an amazing player and he’s so dangerous. So, it’d be an awesome story for him if he was at the T20 World Cup and then obviously, Shubman Gill.

The way he’s played, you know, in the last 12 months, I’ve seen it firsthand in India, got a double hundred against us in a One-Day game. So, in the T20s, he’s a classy batter and very destructive as well.

Sony Sports Network has acquired the exclusive broadcast rights of New Zealand Cricket for seven years.

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