A few hours before the start of the first match at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, the New Zealand cricket team backed out of its tour of Pakistan over security threats on Friday.
In a statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board said New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed the board of “some security alert” that led to an immediate postponement of the series.
Currently, the New Zealand contingent in Pakistan is preparing to leave the country. Despite praising Pakistan’s hosting, the NZC noted that player safety was “paramount”. The touring board said it “will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad”.
Meanwhile, the PCB stated Pakistan had “foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams” and had “assured NZC of the same”. Prime Minister Imran Khan also personally spoke to Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand. He reportedly informed her that Pakistan had “one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind” existed for the visiting team.
“The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the government throughout their stay,” the statement said, adding that the PCB was willing to continue the matches. “Cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last-minute withdrawal.”
For the first time in 18 years, the New Zealand cricket team arrived in Pakistan on Sept 11 to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals. The Rawalpindi Stadium was supposed to host the ODI series against New Zealand on Sept 17, 19, and 21. Moreover, the Gaddafi Stadium was set to host five T20s on Sept 25 through Oct 3.
‘Government security alert’
New Zealand cricket announced in a statement that it was canceling the Pakistan tour due to a “government security alert” as they have threats. However, it did not provide details on the threat or the arrangements for the departure of the squad.
NZC chief executive David White stated that given the advice he was receiving, it was simply not possible to continue the tour.
“I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts,” he said. “But player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.”
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills also added, “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”.
Pakistanis express disappoinment
It may be recalled that back in 2019, a mass shooting took place in two New Zealand mosques. The inhumane shooter captured the whole incident on video and shared it live on Facebook.
The shootings killed 51 people, leaving 49 injured. The attacker was a 28-year-old Australian guy, who was later arrested for charges of terrorism and murder.
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