'Sad day': Fresh fallout over New Zealand-Pakistan cricket drama

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Jacinda Ardern and Ramij Raja, pictured here following New Zealand's abandonment of their tour of Pakistan.
Jacinda Ardern and Ramij Raja have both spoken out following New Zealand's abandonment of their tour of Pakistan. Image: Getty

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja says New Zealand's abrupt withdrawal from their tour of the country on security grounds has put an unwanted question mark over their ability to host international matches in the future.

New Zealand's cricket squad flew out of Islamabad on Saturday, a day after abandoning their tour of Pakistan over a security alert and leaving the South Asian nation devastated.

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The move is a massive setback for Pakistan, who have been trying to revive tours by foreign sides after home internationals were suspended in the aftermath of a 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team.

The New Zealanders arrived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, aboard a charter flight on Sunday.

"There's a lot of pressure created on Pakistan cricket and (especially) Pakistan cricket at home," PCB chairman Raja told cricket fans in a video message released on Saturday.

"The fight to survive is the base on which we challenge the whole world.

"If such a situation is developed (again) when international cricket comes under pressure in Pakistan, we will challenge them once again."

A Pakistani security forces personnel, pictured here in the cricket stadium following the cancellation.
A Pakistani security forces personnel is seen in the cricket stadium following the cancellation. (Photo by Muhammad Reza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Pakistan are awaiting a decision from the England and Wales Cricket Board on the fate of scheduled limited-overs tours by the England men's and women's teams next month.

The West Indies are due to tour Pakistan in December, while Australia are scheduled to go in February.

New Zealand Cricket wouldn't reveal the nature of the security alert, but a Pakistan government minister said they were wary of being attacked outside the stadium in Rawalpindi.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said it alerted NZC to a "credible, specific" security threat to the national team.

Meanwhile, Raja has urged his players to "vent your frustration and anger by performing well".

"The point is that we have experienced this before but we have moved forward, we have resilience, we have power and that's because of fans and because of our cricket team," Raja said.

"If we can't come out of this pressure, we have enough confidence and power that on our domestic level (that) we can make a world beating team."

Anger over New Zealand's abrupt withdrawal from Pakistan

New Zealand Cricket called off their first tour of Pakistan in 18 years just as the first one-day international was due to start in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

They had been due to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 internationals on the tour.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Pakistan's leader Imran Khan that the team feared an attack outside the stadium, according to Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad.

In a brief public statement, Ardern said her government supported the cancellation as "player safety has to be paramount".

Pakistan are due to play New Zealand at the T20 World Cup on October 26 in the UAE, and Raja considered it an opportunity.

Pakistani security forces, pictured here ahead of the first ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand.
Pakistani security forces look on ahead of the first ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand. (Photo by Muhammad Reza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"I want to say to my cricket team, vent your frustration and anger by performing well (at the World Cup)," he said.

"When you become the best team, everybody will want to play against you.

"We should learn from this and move forward, we don't need to get disappointed."

New Zealand previously cut short a tour in 2002 after a suicide bombing outside their team hotel in Karachi killed 14 people, including 11 French naval engineers.

Pakistan, deeply frustrated by the last-minute withdrawal, has denied any security threats.

Security in the country has improved dramatically over the past few years but militant groups still operate along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan have only hosted South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since the 2009 attacks.

with agencies

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