New Zealand cricket team cancels Pakistan tour over security concerns

Sydney, Australia/Islamabad, Sep 17 (EFE).- The New Zealand men’s cricket team on Friday canceled its Pakistan tour, hours before a match against the Pakistan national team was set to kick off, citing a security alert by their government.

In a statement, New Zealand Cricket said that the team, known as the Black Caps, would not play the first One Day International match scheduled for later on Friday in Rawalpindi, while the rest of the tour, set to take place in Lahore, had also been canceled.

“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 statement said.

“It has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour. Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure,” it added.

The body said that it could not comment on the details of the security alert, but it was not possible to continue the tour based on the advice they had been given.

“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,” New Zealand Cricket CEO David White said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board tweeted that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, himself a former national cricket player, had called his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern to assure her that there was no security threat for the two teams.

“(…) Cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal,” the board said.

The cancellation also triggered angry and disappointed reactions from Pakistani fans and former cricket players.

“NZ just killed Pakistan cricket,” former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar tweeted, adding that “this was just an unverified threat, it could have been discussed.” EFE

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