Kiwis back out of Pakistan tour over ‘security threats’

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Kiwis back out of Pakistan tour over 'security threats'
Kiwis back out of Pakistan tour over 'security threats'

The UAE News report: The New Zealand cricket team on Friday backed out of its tour of Pakistan over security concerns minutes before the first match was scheduled to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

In a statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board said that New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed the board they had been alerted to “some security alert” and unilaterally decided to postpone the series.

The New Zealand contingent in Pakistan is now preparing to leave the country. The NZC said Pakistan had been “wonderful hosts” but added that player safety was “paramount”.

The touring board said it “will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad”.

In his reaction to the decision, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja said it had been a “crazy day”, saying he felt sorry for the fans and Pakistani players.

“Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not shared!! Which world is New Zealand living in?? New Zealand will hear us at ICC,” he wrote.

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 ODI series against New Zealand was supposed to be played at the Rawalpindi Stadium, with matches scheduled for Sept 17, 19, and 21, while the Gaddafi Stadium was slated to host five T20s from Sept 25 to Oct 3.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she totally supported New Zealand Cricket’s decision to pull out of the tour.

“When I spoke with the Prime Minister of Pakistan I conveyed our thanks for taking care of the New Zealand Cricket team,” Ardern said in a statement.

“I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn’t gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that’s been made. Player safety has to be paramount.”

Meanwhile, the PCB said Pakistan had “foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams” and had “assured NZC of the same”.

The statement said that Prime Minister Imran Khan also personally spoke to Ardern and informed her that Pakistan had “one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind” existed for the visiting team.

“The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the government throughout their stay,” the statement said, adding that the PCB was willing to continue the matches.

“Cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last-minute withdrawal,” the PCB said.