Dubai: The World XI team led by Faf du Plessis trained hard at the Dubai International Stadium under the scorching sun. The determination to produce top class performance in Lahore against Pakistan in the three-match Twenty20 series was evident in them.
New Zealand’s star all-rounder Grant Elliott, with his face smeared in sunscreen lotion, worked hard on his batting, knowing well that Pakistan has some of the finest bowlers in the world.
When Gulf News asked Elliott as to how much will his team have to adapt to the conditions in Pakistan to win the series?, he said: “We saw Pakistan as an opposition in the Champions Trophy. Pakistan on their day are a very exciting team and their bowling is something special. Mickey Arthur (Pakistan coach) has done a lot in bringing exciting players like Fakhar Zaman, who played for Lahore Qalandars. Pakistan is always an exciting team and it is great they can play in front of their home ground. We also have got a very exciting team and we are keen to go there and entertain the crowd and make a spectacle of it. We want to try and win the series too.”
Elaborating on his team’s plans, Elliott said; “I think in the next few days we will probably talk a little bit more in depth and do our analysis on the opposition. We will also work on a combination that will be playing them and I think we have got a very exciting team. ”
Elliott has experienced the keenness in Pakistan cricketers of wanting to play international cricket in Pakistan as a member of the Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). “For me it is exciting to tour Pakistan because I personally know a lot of the Pakistan guys now. They all have spoken quiet passionately about how they want to play in front of their home ground though they don’t get the luxury of doing it. We have lot of guys in the team who are also excited to play in Pakistan.”
Elliott has experienced the fervour of the Pakistan fans and how they root for their team’s success. Does Elliott think that the vociferous crowd support in Lahore can put pressure on the World XI team despite its experienced players?
“I don’t see it as pressure, I think it is exciting. It adds to the whole excitement of the event. I have seen social media posts of fans that are going to the game saying that they can’t wait and they are counting down the hours. We have heard from Darren Sammy, who spoke to us about the Gaddafi stadium, and what it was during the PSL final this year. There are also lot of the cricketers in our team who haven’t played in Pakistan and they can now tick off Pakistan as a venue they have played around the world.”
Would Elliott want the next PSL to be held completely in Pakistan? “To try and do that we have to access all the security concerns and once that is assessed you can make a judgement call on something like that. At the moment PSL is being run really well in Dubai and they also had the final in Pakistan and the rest is something for the officials to organise,” he said.