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England to assess ground situation in Pakistan after NZ pull out, to decide on tour in next 48 hours

London, Sep 17: England's scheduled tour to Pakistan was thrown into doubt hours after New Zealand cancelled its cricket tour of the Asian nation. The ECB has stated that it will assess the ground situation in the strife-torn country and make a decision on the proposed series in the next 48 hours.

Just head of the first ODI, New Zealand decided to pull its team out of Pakistan after its cricket board received a security threat. England are scheduled to travel to Rawalpindi in October for two Twenty20 Internationals, in what will be their first visit to Pakistan since 2005.

"We're aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert. We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation," the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement.

"The ECB Board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed," the statement read further.

The cancellation of New Zealand's tour of Pakistan is a big setback to the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. Although some international cricket and Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches have been held in the country, however, major Test nations are yet to travel to Pakistan for full-fledged tours. West Indies are scheduled to travel to Pakistan later this year. Australia are also due to tour Pakistan early next year.

Trouble began when the first ODI of the white-ball series could not begin on time at the Rawalpindi Stadium on Friday with both teams remaining in their hotel rooms. New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White eventually issued a statement to say that it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving from his government. The Black Caps have been here since September 11.

"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," he stated.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, on its part, said that New Zealand had acted unilaterally by deciding to postpone the series. The pullout is a major setback to new PCB chief and former national captain Ramiz Raja, who took over just a few days ago and promised to do his best to make international cricket regular in Pakistan.

"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 PCB said in its statement.

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Friday, September 17, 2021, 18:11 [IST]
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