New Zealand abandons Pakistan cricket tour over security concerns

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RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN – New Zealand scrapped their Pakistan cricket tour on Friday due to security concerns that mystified the hosts, just ahead of the Black Caps’ first scheduled game in Pakistan in 18 years.

New Zealand Cricket said it received a security alert from its government and made the decision to cancel the tour moments before the scheduled start of the one-day international series in Rawalpindi. The two teams stayed at their hotel.

“Following an escalation in levels of threat from the New Zealand government to Pakistan and advice from NZC security advisers on the ground, it was decided that the Black Caps would not continue the tour,” NZC said on its website.

“Arrangements are now being made for the departure of the team.”

NZC declined to comment on the nature of the security threat.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said Prime Minister Imran Khan had personally spoken with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and informed her “that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no threat to security of no kind exists for the visiting team “.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistani government have made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have insured New Zealand Cricket in the same way.”

New Zealand were due to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi and five Twenty20s in Lahore. Both cities and the security arrangements were approved by NZC’s security team last month.

NZC chief executive David White said the advice he received made the tour impossible to continue and that he was supported by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association.

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

The PCB said they had done their best to convince the Kiwis, but “cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed with this last minute (New Zealand) pullout.”

Pakistani captain Babar Azam expressed disappointment at the cancellation, while former Pakistani fast pitcher Shoaib Akhtar tweeted: “New Zealand just killed Pakistani cricket.”

England’s men’s and women’s teams are due to travel to Pakistan for a short two-match T20 streak next month, and the England and Wales Cricket Council has said it will make a final call for tours this weekend.

The men from England have not played an international in Pakistan since 2005, while the women are visiting for the first time.

“We are aware of New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from the Pakistan tour due to a security alert,” the ECB said. “We are liaising with our security team which is on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation. The ECB board will then decide within the next 24 to 48 hours whether our planned tour should continue.”

Pakistan was a no-go area for international cricketers for a decade after terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009. The ambush killed seven people and injured several Sri Lankan cricketers , including Thilan Samaraweera, who is part of the New Zealand tour management. as a batting coach.

Since the international teams resumed their tour of Pakistan in 2019, this is the first time a team has had to retire while in the country.

“The players are in good hands,” said Heath Mills, managing director of the New Zealand Cricket Players Association. “They are safe and everyone is doing their best.”

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