New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan has been cancelled due to security concerns, just moments before the first of three ODIs was set to commence.
It’s the latest blow for cricket in the country, which had only resumed hosting international matches in the last two years after a decade-long hiatus, following the attacks on the touring Sri Lankan team back in 2009.
“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 Black Caps will not continue with the tour,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.
“Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.”
The start time of the match had initially been pushed back for security reasons, before being canceled entirely once the Black Caps made their intentions clear.
New Zealand’s cricket team had refused to travel to the stadium in Rawalpindi, citing security concerns, two Pakistani officials say.
“Our security officials and Pakistan cricket board has been trying to convince the team for hours, but that didn’t work,” said a top security official with direct knowledge of the security details on the visiting team.
Another Pakistani government official also told Reuters the team wasn’t ready to enter the stadium on security grounds.
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills supported the move.
“We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision,” Mills said.
“The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests.”
The news of the tour’s cancellation has already caused consternation. Pakistan cricket fans have voiced their displeasure on social media, while the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Twitter account was quick to express their disappointment.
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 fool proof security arrangements for all visiting teams. 1/4
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) September 17, 2021
The tour was New Zealand’s first to Pakistan in 18 years, and was set to featured three ODIs and five Twenty20 matches in Rawalpindi and Lahore.