New Zealand’s white-ball tour of Pakistan was called off minutes before start of play in the opening one-dayer in Rawalpindi after New Zealand Cricket received intelligence from their government about a security threat.
“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 the Blackcaps will not continue with the tour. Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure,” a board release from New Zealand stated.
New Zealand were scheduled to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi starting Friday (September 17) before the series shifted to Lahore for a five-match T20I series, but the entire tour now stands unilaterally postponed following the visitors’ expression of concern.
For their part, the Pakistan Cricket Board said foolproof security arrangements had been in place for New Zealand, just like other visiting teams, and the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, even spoke to his counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, in New Zealand assuring her of the same.
“The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan Government throughout their stay here,” a PCB statement read.
“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.”
NZC chief executive David White 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.”
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed Mr White’s sentiments. “We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision,” he said. “The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests.”
The tour’s cancellation in the 11th hour could be a significant blow to PCB’s attempts to reinstate international cricket fully in the country after a lengthy period of isolation from the circuit in the aftermath of the 2009 militant attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus. New Zealand’s decision to pull out of the their tour may also have a bearing on next month’s series against England, who were scheduled to visit for the first time in 16 years for a short T20I series.