The New Zealand cricket team flew away from Pakistan on Saturday, a day after dropping their eight-game match due to a security threat, which New Zealand media reported was issued by a global intelligence alliance.
The 33-member team, including players and officials, boarded a chartered flight to Abu Dhabi from Islamabad airport in the evening. From Abu Dhabi, the team would fly to New Zealand.
The team was taken to the airport from their hotel under tight security. They were taken to the state guest lounge at the airport, where they underwent a rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Covid-19. They were later allowed to board the flight after all reports were negative.
The Black Caps were scheduled to play three one-day internationals (ODI) and five Twenty20 internationals (T20I) on their first tour of Pakistan in 18 years. They abandoned the tour because the first ODI was due to start in Rawalpindi on Friday.
New Zealand Cricket said the tour was canceled after levels of government threat to Pakistan escalated and advice from its cricket safety advisers on the ground. In a statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also supported the cancellation, saying: “Player safety must be paramount.”
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On Friday, there was a veil of secrecy on the “security threat”. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the team canceled the tour due to an international “plot” despite security assurances from Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On Saturday, the NZ Herald reported that “Five Eyes” – a global intelligence alliance of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom – had issued the security threat, that the authorities took very seriously.
“The threat was deemed credible ahead of the match and led to phone calls between New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and their Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) counterparts and Pakistani and New Zealand Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Jacinda Ardern” , he added. Daily Zealand reported.
Of a notice from Rawalpindi Police earlier this week, citing a threat to the tour, the report said: and action must be taken.
The Black Caps interrupted a tour in 2002 after a suicide bombing in front of the team’s hotel in Karachi that left 14 people dead, including 11 French naval engineers. However, international matches have dried up in the country following a 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.
Since the 2009 attacks, Pakistan has hosted South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. But the cancellation of the New Zealand team’s tour is seen as a massive setback to efforts to revive touring by foreign teams here.
Newly elected Pakistan Cricket Board PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja admitted on Saturday that Pakistani cricket was facing “a lot of pressure” and urged players to “vent their frustration and anger by playing well”.
Raja, who on Friday warned the council would take up the issue with the ruling International Cricket Council (ICC), said in a statement the country has the experience, resilience and power to move forward.
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“It’s an unfortunate scenario,” Raja said in a video posted to the board’s Twitter account. “But we have faced similar situations in the past and have always overcome them. We have enormous resilience… this is a setback for the staging of international cricket in Pakistan, but we will also overcome this crisis, ”he added.
Raja advised players to channel their anger and frustration to improve performance. “My message to the team is this: vent your anger and frustration through your performance on the pitch. If you become the best team in the world, others will line up here to face you in Pakistan.
Following the abrupt departure of the New Zealand team, Pakistan now faces further tour cancellations. The England and Wales Cricket Board have said they will decide on next month’s tours for their men’s and women’s teams by Sunday (today).
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said they were monitoring the situation and gathering information from security experts before deciding to travel to Pakistan in February and March next year, the team’s first tour. in Pakistan since 1998.
(WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF AGENCIES)