- The tour was called off minutes before the New Zealand team’s first match in Pakistan in 18 years.
- Pakistani and New Zealand’s cricket boards said that Rawalpindi match was canceled due to security alert.
- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday to reassure her of the team’s safety.
New Zealand’s team was due to take on Pakistan in its first match on Pakistani soil for 18 years in the city of Rawalpindi today, but the tour had been canceled right before the start of the first match, due to unspecified ‘security concerns’.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) – the sport’s national board – unexpectedly issued a statement saying it was “abandoning” the tour due to government security alert just minutes before the scheduled start of play.
“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 Black Caps will not continue with the tour,” the New Zealand Cricket’s statement said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the tour had been cancelled “unilaterally” by NZC despite “foolproof security arrangements” made for the series, which was due to consist of three One Day International matches in Rawalpindi and five T20s in the eastern city of Lahore.
“PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches,” said a PCB statement. “However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal.”
Pakistan’s information minister, meanwhile, said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday to reassure her of the team’s safety.
“A short while ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan was in contact with New Zealand’s Prime Minister and reassured her that the New Zealand team was being provided foolproof security in Pakistan, and the PCB has said that the New Zealand security team had themselves expressed satisfaction with the Pakistani security arrangements,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.
“Our intelligence agencies are among the best intelligence systems in the world and according to them the New Zealand team does not face any kind of threat.”
In a statement, New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White said it was impossible to continue with the tour given the security advice he had been given.
The move will be seen as a blow to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s efforts to bring full international cricket with all teams back to Pakistan, after the country’s team was forced to play in exile for six years following a 2008 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.
Questions now remain over whether the England men’s cricket team will continue with plans for its tour of Pakistan next month.