Pakistan rule out NZ T20 WC match boycott

Pakistan will not boycott next month’s Twenty20 World Cup match against New Zealand after the Black Caps abruptly abandoned their tour over security fears, the country’s cricket board said on Sunday.

The cancellation is a massive setback for Pakistan, which has 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.

New Zealand have refused to give details of the security threat that forced them to cancel their tour on Friday just as the first one-day international was due to begin in Rawalpindi.

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The decision infuriated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and sparked calls for a boycott of the New Zealand team.

But PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said no such action was on the cards.

"Right now there is no issue of us not playing NZ," Khan said at a Zoom press conference on Sunday.

"We have a duty to the fans and we have to fulfil that."

He also ruled out players wearing black armbands in protest.

"I think we just need to be very careful in terms of the perspective," he said.

"We don’t want to take that route showing any sort of political gesturing and posturing and any sort of visible protest."

Pakistan and New Zealand are due to meet in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sharjah on October 26.

Khan said the abandonment had created "political tensions" in the PCB’s relationship with New Zealand Cricket "because the way it was done was disrespectful."

The three-ODI and five-T20 series would have been the Black Caps’ first games in Pakistan in 18 years and Khan said the pull-out has exposed the inequalities in world cricket.

"We have done everything for other countries, our players have sacrificed 14 days of quarantine in New Zealand and went to New Zealand after an attack on the mosque," said Khan in reference to the March 2019 attack in Christchurch.

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"It’s easy to walk out of countries like Pakistan without any reason, without any dialogue and that has to stop," Khan said.

Attempts to convince Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to visit for a replacement series have also fallen through due to logistical hurdles, Khan said.

England and Australia are both currently scheduled to play in Pakistan later this year.

The New Zealand cricket team arrived in Dubai early Sunday after fleeing Pakistan but officials refused to give details of the security threat that forced them to abruptly cancel their tour.

While some information had been shared with the PCB, "specific details could not, and will not, be disclosed – privately or publicly", New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said.

Upcoming scheduled tours by England, Australia and the West Indies are now in jeopardy.

"The Blackcaps have arrived in Dubai after leaving Islamabad on a charter flight last night," New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.

"The contingent of 34 players and support staff are now settling into their Dubai hotel and undergoing their 24-hour period of self-isolation."

White said he appreciated what a "terribly difficult time" it was for the PCB, but added New Zealand had no choice but to abandon their visit.

"What I can say is that we were advised this was a specific and credible threat against the team," he added.

"We had several conversations with New Zealand government officials before making the decision and it was after informing the PCB of our position that we understand a telephone discussion was conducted between the respective prime ministers. Unfortunately, given the advice we’d received, there was no way we could stay in the country."

White said New Zealand had remained comfortable with its initial decision to tour Pakistan, based on comprehensive assessments of the security situation, and the risk-mitigation measures promised. "Everything changed on Friday," he said.

"The advice changed, the threat level changed and, as a consequence, we took the only responsible course of action possible.

On Saturday, the NZ Herald reported that ‘Five Eyes’ – a global intelligence alliance of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and the UK – had issued the security threat, which the authorities took very seriously.

The threat was deemed credible before the match, and led to phone calls between New Zealand Cricket and their counterparts at the PCB, and Pakistan and New Zealand Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Jacinda Ardern,” the New Zealand daily reported.

About a Rawalpindi police advisory earlier this week, citing a threat to the tour, the report stated: “New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson would not confirm whether that was the threat that caused the tour to be abandoned, but noted the threat was credible and action needed to be taken.” Agencies

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