Kiwi Cricket Team Could Have Been Attacked, New Zealand PM Ardern Told Pakistan PM Khan
18:50 GMT 17.09.2021 (Updated: 18:44 GMT 19.10.2022)
© REUTERS / STRINGERA member of the Police Elite Force stands guard at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, after the New Zealand cricket team pulled out of a Pakistan cricket tour over security concerns, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Waseem Khan NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
The New Zealand cricket team called off their tour of Pakistan minutes before the first One-Day International (ODI) match was scheduled to start in Rawalpindi, citing a threat to their security, the governing bodies of the sport in both countries said.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to her Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan after the Kiwi cricket team pulled out of their tour of the South Asian nation on Friday, according to Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
She apprised Mr Khan about the intelligence that the Kiwis could have come under a ghastly attack right outside the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
According to Interior Minister Ahmed, Prime Minister Khan, who is currently undertaking a visit to neighbouring Tajikistan, assured her of the New Zealand team's security. But she went by her national cricket board's decision.
"He told her that the law and order situation is the best in our country and we give a guarantee that there is no security problem here, there is no security threat", Ahmed said.
"But the prime minister of New Zealand said that the issue is not the threat but we have such information that when the team goes out it can come under some attack, so they have unilaterally canceled their tour", the Pakistani minister added.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) – the country's board for the sport, issued a statement after the team opted to stay in their hotel due to the growing threat.
"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", NZC chief executive David White stated.
New Zealand's sudden departure is yet another setback to the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) hopes of reviving international cricket, after foreign teams stopped visiting the country following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2008.
While several Sri Lankan players were injured in the attack, with a couple of them suffering bullet wounds as they were on their way to Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, the driver of their bus was killed in the incident.
The attack led to a Pakistani boycott for six years as opposition teams chose to play their matches outside the country.
In 2015, Zimbabwe's team toured Pakistan, becoming the first team to do so. Subsequently, the Sri Lankan and South African teams also visited Pakistan to play One Day Internationals (ODI) and the 20-over T20 international games.
But New Zealand's decision to withdraw from the tour has disappointed the PCB, like their government.
"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal", the Pakistan Board said.