The cricketing world is reeling after New Zealand’s white-ball tour of Pakistan was abruptly halted amid a security threat.
New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan has been abruptly halted following a security threat.
Ahead of Friday’s first ODI in Rawalpindi, players and support staff were told to stay in their hotel rooms, while spectators were not allowed to enter the venue.
After a long delay, New Zealand Cricket released a statement confirming that the eight-match tour had been canceled due to a security warning from the New Zealand government.
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“Following an escalation in the New Zealand government’s threat levels to Pakistan and advice from NZC security advisers on the ground, it has been decided that the Black Caps will not continue the tour,” the statement said.
“Agreements are now being made about the departure of the team.
“NZC will not comment on the details of the security threat, nor on the updated arrangements for the outgoing team.”
The Black Caps squad arrived in Islamabad last week and had completed three training sessions prior to the first ODI.
It was New Zealand’s first visit to the subcontinent in 18 years.
NZC chief executive David White said: “I understand this will be a blow to the PCB who have been great hosts but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board also released a statement alleging that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had informed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that “there is no security threat of any kind to the visiting team”.
“PCB and the Government of Pakistan have put in place foolproof security measures for all visiting teams. We have assured the NZ cricket board of the same,” the statement read.
“The security officials of the NZ team have been pleased with the security arrangements made by the government of Pakistan during their stay here.
“PCB is willing to let the scheduled games go ahead. However, cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal.”
Pakistani batter Babar Azam tweeted: “Extremely disappointed at the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought back the smiles of millions of Pakistani cricket fans. I have full confidence in the capabilities and credibility of our security services. They are our pride and always will be!”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan posted: “Such a shame for Pakistan Cricket…These late cancellations will hurt the game immensely financially… Hopefully security vulnerabilities can be resolved so that cricket can be played again in Pakistan.”
Pakistani cricket fans were understandably disappointed by the announcement and expressed their frustration on social media.
Most countries have refused to tour Pakistan since the tragic attacks in Lahore of 2009, with ‘home’ matches taking place in the United Arab Emirates instead.
But Test Cricket made its long-awaited return to Pakistan in December 2019 when Sri Lanka agreed to a run of two Tests.
However, Friday’s security threat will worry the PCB ahead of a busy home season.
The English men’s and women’s sides are scheduled to tour Pakistan next month, while Australia plans to travel to the Asian nation in early 2022.
Earlier this week, England captain Heather Knight said they were waiting for a security update for their upcoming tour.
“Things are obviously changing very quickly at the moment, but we’re still in talks or waiting for a few things to try and figure out what’s going to happen,” she said.
“So hopefully things are considered safe. That is not in my hands and in the hands of the team and it is up to the people above to make those decisions, but we are in constant conversation and that will certainly progress in the coming weeks.”
The ECB will reportedly decide in the next 24-48 whether to continue with next month’s tour.