The start of the first ODI of the three-match series between Pakistan and New Zealand has been called-off due to Covid-19 cases in the visitors’ camp.
As per reports, as many as three players from the New Zealand team have reportedly tested positive following which players and support staff have been asked to stay in their respective hotel rooms.
Meanwhile, the fans have been barred from entering the stadium.
According to reports in Pakistani media, the Kiwi team has refused to travel to ground to due to security concerns.
After the development, the first match is most likely to be cancelled after the Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand camp.
Earlier, the New Zealand cricket team was exempted from Covid-19 test at all airports in Pakistan after they arrived to play an ODI and Twenty20 series against the hosts on September 11.
The Civil Aviation Authority ( CAA) of Pakistan had exempted the Kiwi cricket team from the necessary Covid-19 test at all airports in the country after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had urged the authority to do so.
Notably, the Kiwi cricket team is 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.
New Zealand had last played an ODI series in Pakistan in 2003.
“Approval is hereby accorded in respect of New Zealand cricket team, with details mentioned in the enclosed documents(s), for travel to Pakistan without Rapid Antigen Testing upon arrival in Pakistan,” CAA had said in its letter.
After completing their ongoing Bangladesh tour, the New Zealand cricket team flied to Pakistan on a chartered plane of Bangladesh’s Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight and landed at the Islamabad airport on September 11.
Last week, Pakistan’s federal cabinet had approved the security plan for the series.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said that “extraordinary” security would be provided to the New Zealand team, as an unfortunate incident had occurred during their last tour to Pakistan.
The three ODIs was earlier a part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs, however, due to the non-availability of DRS, it will now be counted as just a bilateral series.
While the ODIs will be held at Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium on September 17, 19, and 21, the historic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will stage the five T20Is between September 25 to October 3.
Earlier in August, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan had confirmed the Black Caps tour to Pakistan.
“Series against a top-ranked side like New Zealand will be a perfect start to a mouth-watering and highly-exciting home season of red and white-ball cricket. The 2019 World Cup finalists, who are also the World Test champions and ranked third in T20Is, will draw tremendous attraction and interest from the local fans, and will reinforce Pakistan’s status as a safe and secure country,” Khan had said.
“I am pleased New Zealand Cricket has accepted our offer to play two additional Twenty20 Internationals. These will not only provide extra games to both the countries as part of their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup preparations, but will also allow New Zealand players to spend extra days in Pakistan, familiarise with our culture and enjoy our hospitality. With leading cricket playing countries resuming their tours to Pakistan in 2019, I remain confident and optimistic that the 2021-22 season starting with the series against New Zealand will prove to be a catalyst in rejuvenating our talented youngsters while attracting new fans to the game that has the most passionate following in the country,” he had added.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Chief Executive David White had commented: “We’re very much looking forward to returning to Pakistan for the start of their home international season. New Zealand was the first country outside India to tour Pakistan and we share a close relationship with the PCB.”
“It’s great that, after such a difficult time for Pakistan, international cricket is again being played in the country,” he added.