The NZ team suspended all matches despite assurances from Pakistani authorities of "foolproof arrangements" to ensure security. It was the first time in 18 years the side was touring Pakistan.

New Zealand's Scott Kuggeleijn (centre) bowls during a practice session in the Pindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on September 14, 2021.
New Zealand's Scott Kuggeleijn (centre) bowls during a practice session in the Pindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on September 14, 2021. (AP)

New Zealand has abandoned their limited-overs series in Pakistan after receiving a security alert shortly before their first game.

New Zealand officials informed the PCB that they were "unilaterally suspending" all their scheduled matches in Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement.

The series was scheduled to begin on Friday in Rawalpindi.

"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 PCB said.

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New Zealand were visiting Pakistan for the first time in 18 years and were due to play three one-day internationals and five Twenty20 matches in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Hours before the PCB announcement, New Zealand refused to travel to the stadium in Rawalpindi where they were due to play the first one-day international against Pakistan, citing security concerns, two Pakistani officials told Reuters before the PCB announcement.

"New Zealand's government instructed them to stay in the hotel due to security threats," one of the officials who was directly involved in the security details said.

New Zealand's cricket board said arrangements were being made for the team's departure back home.

The PCB said Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke personally to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and informed her “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 Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams.

We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same.”

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Ardern supports decision to pull out

Ardern said on Friday that she supported New Zealand Cricket's decision to pull out of its Pakistan tour as the safety of the players was paramount.

"When I spoke with the Prime Minister of Pakistan I conveyed our thanks for taking care of the New Zealand Cricket team," Ardern said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn’t gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that’s been made. Player safety has to be paramount.”

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Source: Reuters