New Zealand abandon tour of Pakistan citing security threat; PCB calls it unilateral

Rawalpindi: The New Zealand cricket team on Friday abandoned its ongoing tour of Pakistan before the start of the first ODI here, citing a security threat which the host board insisted did not exist while declaring the pull-out a unilateral move.

Trouble began when the first ODI of the white ball series could not begin on time at the Rawalpindi stadium on Friday with both teams remaining in their hotel rooms.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White eventually issued a statement to say that it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving from his government.

“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,” he stated.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, on its part, said that New Zealand had unilaterally decided to postpone the series.

“Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured New Zealand Cricket of the same.

“The Pakistan Prime Minister (Imran Khan) spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern) 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 visiting team,” the PCB said in its statement.

This was New Zealand’s first tour of Pakistan in 18 years and the series was to comprise three ODIs and five T20 Internationals.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said the decision to withdraw is in the best interest of the players.

“The players are in good hands; they’re safe and everyone’s acting in their best interests,” Mills said.

NZC also made it clear that it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.

The PCB said that the security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with the arrangements made by the hosts throughout their stay here.

“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,” the PCB stated.

International teams have avoided touring Pakistan ever since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, while it was on its way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for a Test match.

Six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured and six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed in that attack.

Pakistan is also due to host England and West Indies later this year, while Australia are scheduled to be here early next year.