The Blackcaps on Friday said they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan before the start of the first ODI at the Rawalpindi stadium, citing a security alert from the New Zealand government.
Trouble began when the first ODI of the white ball series could not begin on time with both teams remaining in their hotel rooms. New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White eventually issued a statement to say that it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving from his government.
"Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour. Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure," the statement read.
White said he understands that this will be a blow for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). But player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option, he added.
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed Mr White’s sentiments. “We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision,” he said. “The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests," he added.
However, NZC will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad, the statement further read.
Meanwhile, the PCB said that New Zealand had unilaterally decided to postpone the series. Moreover, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke personally to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and "informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team," the statement read.
"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal," it added.
This was New Zealand's first tour of Pakistan in 18 years and the tour was to comprise three ODIs and five T20 Internationals.
For the uninitiated, international teams have avoided touring Pakistan ever since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, while it was on its way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for a Test match.
Six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured and six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed in that attack.
Earlier in August, Afghanistan's three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Sri Lanka had been postponed indefinitely. "PCB has accepted ACB's request to postpone next month’s ODI series due to players’ mental health issues, disruption in flight operations in Kabul, lack of broadcast facilities and increased Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka. Both boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022," the PCB statement had said.
Pakistan is due to host England and West Indies later this year, while Australia are scheduled to be in the country early next year.
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