English News

indianarrative

Massive blow to Pakistan cricket as New Zealand team abandons tour due to security alert

Hosts Pakistan and New Zealand were scheduled to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Blackcaps)

In a big blow to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Imran Khan government, New Zealand cricket team has announced that they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a Kiwi government's security alert.

The two teams were scheduled to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series.

However, just a short while before the start of their first ODI match against hosts in Rawalpindi on Friday, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) released a statement saying the team would be pulling out of the tour following a New Zealand government security alert.

"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 that the Blackcaps will not continue with the tour," said the statement from the New Zealand cricket board.

NZC chief executive David White, while informing that arrangements are now being made for the team's departure from Pakistan, said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving.

"I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option," said White.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed White’s sentiments.

"We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests,” he said.

NZC said that it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.

Taken aback, the PCB said that the Pakistan government had made "foolproof security arrangements" for all visiting teams and had assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same.

"The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand 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 Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement.  

The local board authorities said further that the security officials with the New Zealand team "have been satisfied with security arrangements" made by the Pak government throughout their stay here.

"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," said the PCB statement.

The PCB had been making desperate efforts to have international games in Pakistan after most of the teams had refused to tour the country following the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

Country's cricketer-turned PM Imran Khan had also led the campaign to highlight that security situation in Pakistan has improved greatly and high-level security arrangements are made for international teams and foreign cricketers playing the local T20 league.

The last time New Zealand played an ODI in Pakistan was in 2003.

Also Read: Imran Khan’s defence of the Haqqani network sets social media on fire