New Zealand have called off their cricket tour of Pakistan amid growing security concerns, on the day when the opening match was due to take place.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) stated its disappointment after New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced the team would be returning home.
Pakistan and the Black Caps were due to meet in three ODIs and five T20Is, with the first fixture set for Friday in Rawalpindi, but the entire tour has been called off.
Neither team left their hotel on Friday morning and spectators were not allowed to enter the stadium.
A statement from NZC declared the team had decided to withdraw from the tour "following an escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground".
NZC chief executive David White said: "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."
The BLACKCAPS are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert.— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) September 17, 2021
Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.
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The PCB did not agree with NZC's decision, however, insisting the Pakistan government had been in contact with New Zealand's government to appease any fears over the security and safety of the travelling party.
"Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series," a PCB statement read.
"Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan prime minister [Imran Khan] spoke personally to the prime minister of New Zealand [Jacinda Ardern] and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.
"The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan government throughout their stay here.
"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."
Pakistan did not host Test matches from 2009 to 2019 after a terror attack on the touring Sri Lanka team, which left six players, two staff members and an umpire wounded, and eight others – six Pakistani police officers and two civilians – dead.