Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Martin Guptill has expressed his disappointment at New Zealand abruptly calling off their Pakistan tour last month. Guptill was slated to return to international action on that tour as he was among a host of first-choice players who were rested for the Bangladesh tour that preceded the Pakistan trip.
"I guess it was disappointing for everyone involved," Guptill said during a virtual media interaction. "We were all looking forward to playing some cricket and getting a bit of game-time before the World Cup and that wasn't to be. I know Pakistan are really looking forward to having some cricket back in their home country. We're all hoping that there's going to be cricket there again soon."
New Zealand abandoned the tour minutes before the first ODI was scheduled to start in Rawalpindi, acting on a security threat from their government. After the tour was called off amid chaos, Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's federal minister for information and broadcasting, revealed that a threatening email about Guptill's life had been sent to his wife, broadcaster Laura McGoldrick, before the start of the tour. The pre-tour threat to Laura was separate from the security threat that ultimately prompted New Zealand to cancel the tour.
"It never is [good when the family receives threats]," Guptill said. "We sent it to the right people to sort of deal with it. Obviously, nothing came of it. It is what it is, and we just had to go through the right channels to get it dealt with properly. Laura [McGoldrick] never actually told me what the email said, so I had no idea what was going on. As I said, we sent it to the proper authorities to get it sorted."
Speaking to Mike Hesson and Ian Smith on Sky Sport NZ after the tour was abandoned, Laura had pointed out that the uncertainty in Pakistan left the players' families worried back home in New Zealand.
"He [Guptill] was really excited to be in Pakistan," Laura said. "He felt very safe and they took good care of them, but New Zealand Cricket did the only thing that they could do - that is to get them out of there and it was a very scary time for the families back here as we were waiting and wondering what was going on. It was really sad - sad for all cricket fans, particularly those in Pakistan, and I can't imagine how long it's going to take to get back to a point where international teams now tour there."
New Zealand will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan in Sharjah on October 26. Guptill was wary of Pakistan's strength in the slow, low UAE conditions but backed his team to come good.
"I think [it's] like any game against Pakistan, they're a tough opponent and in these conditions, it's going to be pretty tough again," he said. "We're going to have to be on our A-game and bring it to them and not take a backward step, just like every other game that we play. It's going to be a tough game, I'm not going to lie, but we're going to prepare well and look forward to that game."
Guptill's most recent assignment was the second chunk of the PSL, where he turned out for Karachi Kings. Slotting in at No. 3 behind Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan, Guptill managed only 69 runs in six innings at an average of 11.50 and strike rate of 104.54. While his PSL form was patchy overall, he did get some game-time, facing up to the likes of Shaheen Afridi and Rashid Khan in Abu Dhabi. The UAE pitches are now tiring further at the IPL, and Guptill isn't sure how they will behave at the forthcoming T20 World Cup.
"So, the wickets were pretty good then [at PSL] and I've seen some of the scores in the IPL now; the wickets are looking pretty tired, and it could be a low-scoring [tournament]. Again, we won't know until we assess the conditions and what's happening with it."
Guptill doesn't have recent form under his belt and had also suffered a hamstring injury last home summer, but is ready for his 12th ICC senior event.
"It has been a bit of a ride, isn't it? Twelve years with the team and this is my 12th ICC tournament," Guptill said. "It's pretty exciting - the opportunity to represent your country is a massive thing and you know, I just want to do the best that I can."