The New Zealand men’s cricket team has unilaterally backed out of the much-anticipated Pakistan’s tour citing alleged “security concerns” on the brink of the first ODI that was scheduled to be held at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

In a statement, Pakistan Cricket Board said that the Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government had made top-notch security arrangements for New Zealand Cricket Team by the tourist contingent’s own admission. The PCB said that in the aftermath of the announcement, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan directly spoke to his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern to reassure of the security arrangements for the Black Caps. The PM told Ardern that Pakistan’s had one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind existed for the visiting team.

The New Zealand cricket team had arrived in Pakistan on September 11 for the first time in 18 years to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals. The travelling party includes Sri Lankan batting coach Thilan Samaraweera who was badly injured in the 2009 Lahore Attack on the Sri Lankan team which led to 6-year long hiatus in Pakistan’s home cricket. It makes little sense to abandon the tour at the eleventh hour since the visiting team has been in Pakistan for the past 6 days and NZ security officials repeatedly expressed satisfaction with the security arrangement before their arrival and during their stay in Pakistan.

It is even more baffling that the New Zealand officials have refused to share the details of this “security alert”.

NZ Cricket said that it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.

In his remarks, 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.”

Elsewhere, New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said, “We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests.”

Meanwhile, the PCB has reiterated its desire to go ahead with the scheduled matches.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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