New Zealand’s last-minute decision to cancel their limited-overs tour of Pakistan just before the first ODI in Rawalpindi has didn’t go well with former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar, who slammed the touring team and its cricket board, saying “NZ just killed Pakistan cricket”.
“Sad scenes & news from Rawalpindi. Following points for New Zealand to remember: 9 Pakistanis were killed in the Christchurch attack. Pakistan stood strong with New Zealand. Pakistan toured New Zealand in the worst of Covid circumstances regardless of the crude treatment by NZ authorities on that tour,” Akhtar expressed.
“This was just an unverified threat, it could have been discussed. Prime Minister Imran Khan personally spoke to his NZ counterpart and assured but it was still refused. Pakistan has safely hosted South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe & PSL,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Babar Azam also expressed his disappointment following the announcement and said: “Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan Cricket Fans. I’ve full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be! Pakistan Zindabad!”
The incident happened just few minutes before the first of the three ODIs in Rawalpindi when NZC decided to pull out citing security concerns.
Later, the PCB released a statement saying that the NZC was “unilaterally suspending” the tour. On the other hand, Raja warned that the matter will be taken up before the International Cricket Council (ICC) very soon.
Earlier in the day following a period of uncertainty and chaos caused by the delay of the first ODI apart from rumours of COVID-19 outbreak in the Kiwi camp, a statement from New Zealand Cricket (NZC) was issued which said it was cancelling the ongoing tour on a security alert.
Commenting on the development, NZC said in a statement: “The side was to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series. However, 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.”
“Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure,” it added.
On the other hand, the PCB statement said: “Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series.”
“Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand 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,” it added.
Further elaborating, the statement said: “The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan Government throughout their stay here.”
While the ODIs was slated to be held at Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium on September 17, 19, and 21, the historic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore would have had stage the five T20Is between September 25 to October 3.
Notably, the Kiwi cricket team was touring Pakistan after a long gap of 18 years. Earlier, New Zealand’s tour to Pakistan was cut short in 2002 after a bomb explosion outside the team’s hotel in Karachi.