New Zealand’s preparation in full swing ahead of testing Pakistan series
Kane Williamson and Craig McMillan. (PTI Image)

As New Zealand begin their preparations for a challenging tour against Pakistan, one things they would be wary of is the hot and humid conditions of the UAE. In a stark contrast to the weather in New Zealand, the temperatures in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will not make it easy for Kane Williamson and his side, especially because they haven’t played international cricket since March. The Australian faced the same heat earlier this month and New Zealand would be no exception.

They face Pakistan in three ODIs, three T20Is and three Tests, and while the conditions are bound to throw up a big challenge, batting coach Craig McMillan seems to have things under control. The former New Zealand allrounder mentioned how he and the team are undertaking various new methods to prepare for the tour, one of them being training under lights. The tour begins with a T20 series, the first of which will be played on Wednesday.

“We’re mixing it up,” McMillan said. “A lot of them have come from four-day, red-ball cricket, so getting back into white-ball and T20 especially [is hard]. So throwing different scenarios at them, putting them under pressure, seeing how they react and how they find a way to win the game.

“There’s different challenges for batsmen and bowlers in hot conditions and that’s one of the things the guys have to get right when they’re on the field, in terms of fluid intake, making sure they’ve got those energy levels up, because it does sap it out of you when it’s 35-40 C. That’s why it’s important just to get out, get them sweating, get them working in the field, so that come Wednesday night, we’re ready to rock and roll.”

Another aspect of UAE McMillan is familiar with is the pattern of low-scoring totals. In the Asia Cup, teams had a tough time putting above 250 on the board and the T20s follow a similar order. While teams have shown that even a total of 170-180 is gettable, UAE makes 150 a challenging target to chase down.

“Scores are a little bit lower over here in the conditions, which is something that we’ll have to talk about as a team,” McMillan said. “In New Zealand and in some other countries, you’re looking to score 170-180 but over here 150 has been a winning score, so we might have to tailor our gameplan around that.”

The former allrounder believes New Zealand players will use the experience of playing across different T20 leagues to their advantage. Skipper Williamson had captained Sunrisers Hyderabad to IPL playoffs earlier this year, while Colin Munro was the leading run-getter in the CPL this season. Besides, the likes of Ish Sodhi and Ross Taylor also had fruitful stints with T20 Blast and CPL respectively.

“We’ve had a lot of players playing in different franchise competitions around the world from the CPL to the IPL to the NatWest over in England,” McMillan said. “So we’ve got a fair bit of experience. There’s nothing better than playing in those competitions. We know Pakistan are a very strong side; No. 1 in the world at the moment. Very hard to beat in home conditions. But we had a successful last tour here in 2014 and we’ve got a lot of the guys back from that trip and it’s something we’re looking forward to.”