New Zealand have called off their limited-overs tour of Pakistan citing security concerns. The tour, comprising three ODIs and five T20Is, was supposed to start today, with the first ODI in Rawalpindi, but neither team left their hotel on the morning of the game, and spectators were not allowed to enter the stadium.
After a period of uncertainty, as details regarding the cause of the delay were awaited, a New Zealand cricket statement was issued, saying, “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”.
The New Zealand contingent in Pakistan is now preparing to leave the country.
“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,” NZC chief executive David White said in the statement.
The PCB responded with a statement indicating their unhappiness at a “unilateral” decision. “Earlier today, the New Zealand cricket board informed us that they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series.
“PCB and Govt of Pakistan made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand cricket board of the same. The Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best Intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visting team.
“The security officials with the NZ team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Govt of Pakistan throughout their stay here.”
The NZ squad had landed in Islamabad on September 11th and had since held three training sessions in the run-up to the first ODI. Both the teams were staying in a hotel which, with all security protocols in place, was about 15 minutes drive away.
This was the first tour to Pakistan by a New Zealand side in 18 years, after an ODI series in 2003. That series itself was a continuation of the 2002 visit by New Zealand which was cancelled after an explosion at the hotel they were staying at in Karachi.