Islamabad: In a major setback to the South Asian country’s hopes of holding regular international cricket, New Zealand on Friday abruptly canceled its tour of Pakistan, citing a security alert.
The tour was scheduled to begin with the first three ODIs in Rawalpindi on Friday, but New Zealand did not travel to the stadium.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) then issued a statement announcing its decision to cancel the tour.
“Following an increase in the threat level of the New Zealand Government to Pakistan, and following advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided that the Blackcaps will not continue with the tour,” it said.
NZC declined to share details of the security threat and said arrangements were being made for the team’s departure.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid told reporters that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told her Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan that the cricket team could have been attacked.
He said that Pakistan’s security agencies do not have any such information.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that NZC “unilaterally decided to postpone the series” despite the “foolproof security arrangements” put in place for the matches.
“The Prime Minister of Pakistan spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and told him that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and no security of any kind for the visiting team,” the PCB said in a statement. The danger doesn’t exist.” .
“PCB is ready to continue with the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed at this last minute return.
Newly-appointed PCB chairman Ramiz Raja, former Pakistan captain, said they would approach the International Cricket Council (ICC) on what happened on the “crazy day”.
“It is very disappointing to pull out of the tour after taking a unilateral stand on the security threat. Especially when it’s not shared!! What world is New Zealand living in?? NZ will hear us at the ICC,” King wrote on Twitter.
PM supported the pullout
New Zealand, barring several frontline players, were touring Pakistan for the first time in 18 years and were also due to play five Twenty20 matches in Lahore.
Top teams had largely shunned Pakistan after the attack on a Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, in which six policemen and two civilians were killed.
NZC chief executive David White said: “I understand this will be a blow to the PCB, which have been fantastic hosts, but the safety of players is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.”
Prime Minister Ardern supported the NZC’s decision to end the tour.
“I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game doesn’t go ahead, but we fully support the decision that has been made. Player safety should be paramount,” she said in a statement.
There could be more disappointment for the PCB with England on what should be their first visit to Pakistan in 16 years to play two Twenty20 matches in Rawalpindi next month.
An England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spokesperson said, “We are liaising with our security team, which is present in Pakistan, to fully understand the situation.”
The ECB board will decide in the next few days whether the tour should go ahead or not.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam echoed the sentiments in Pakistan where fans are starving for live action involving top teams.
“Extremely disappointed with the sudden postponement of the (New Zealand) series, which could have brought back smiles to millions of Pakistan cricket fans,” the batsman wrote on Twitter.
by Asif Shahzadi
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times