New Zealand coach says no tension around T20 opener

New Zealand coach Gary Stead has played down suggestions of any tension around their T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan.

The Black Caps had unilaterally called off their Pakistan tour minutes before the scheduled start of the ODI series in Rawalpindi last month citing a security alert.

New Zealand’s withdrawal dealt a massive blow to Pakistan’s hopes of staging regular international cricket, with England subsequently calling off their men’s and women’s tours.

New Zealand will face former champions Pakistan in their opening Group 2 match on October 26 in Sharjah and Stead said his side were focused only on that.

“I’m not sure if there’s any more tension on it from our perspective,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Obviously, what happened in Pakistan was sad for Pakistan cricket, their players, and also our players, who missed out on that opportunity as well.”

He said, “We can’t change what has happened there. All we can do is prepare for the tournament and we face Pakistan first up.”

New Zealand are bidding to win a second world title this year after claiming the inaugural World Test Championship in June by beating India in the final.

Stead said they would not set too many goals.

“I guess our first one is focusing on one game at a time, but the main goal is to get to that semi-finals stage and if you’re there, you’ll know that you’re only two wins away from a title,” Stead added.