New Zealand’s cricket trip of Pakistan was called off on Friday, two days before the Black Caps’ first scheduled match in Pakistan in 18 years, due to security concerns that perplexed the hosts.
New Zealand Cricket claimed it received a security notice from its authorities and decided to cancel the tour only minutes before the one-day international series in Rawalpindi was set to begin. Both teams remained in their respective hotels.
“Following an increase in the New Zealand government’s threat ratings for Pakistan, as well as advice from NZC security consultants on the ground, the Black Caps have chosen to cancel the tour,” NZC announced on its website.
“Arrangements for the team’s departure are now being made.”
According to the Pakistan Cricket Board, Prime Minister Imran Khan talked with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern directly and informed her that “we have one of the strongest intelligence systems in the world and that there is no security threat of any type for the visiting team.”
“For all visiting teams, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government made comprehensive security precautions. New Zealand Cricket has been assured of this.”
New Zealand was scheduled to play three One-Day Internationals in Rawalpindi and five Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore. Last month, NZC’s security team cleared both cities and security plans.
The New Zealand Cricket Players Association backed NZC chief executive David White, who stated the information he received made the tour difficult to continue.
“I understand this will be a setback for the PCB, who have been fantastic hosts,” White said. “However, player safety is paramount, and we believe this is the only responsible alternative.”
The PCB claimed it did its hardest to persuade the Kiwis, but “cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world would be upset by New Zealand’s last-minute withdrawal.”
After terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, Pakistan became a no-go zone for foreign cricket teams for a decade. Seven persons were killed in the ambush, while six Sri Lankan cricketers were injured, including Thilan Samaraweera, who is the batting coach for the New Zealand tour.
This is the first time a team has had to leave Pakistan since international teams starting touring the country in 2019.