New Zealand was set to tour Pakistan for the first time in 18 years. The 2 teams were scheduled to play 3 ODI games and 5 T20i games ahead of the ICC World T-20 in October.
But such an exciting series between 2 of the best teams never ended up taking place. On 17th September, the first day of the series, Team New Zealand pulled out of the series. The series was called off the very day that it was scheduled to begin.
That day, both teams were ordered to stay in their hotel rooms, and spectators were not allowed into the stadium. New Zealand Cricket raised a security alert to the Pakistan Cricket Board and called off the series.
New Zealand “unilaterally” as said by the Pakistan Cricket Board called off the series. Team Pakistan was disappointed that the decision was taken single-handedly without their opinion into consideration. Team New Zealand opted to return home later that day.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said that he realizes that it would be a blow for the Pakistan Cricket Board but that was the only responsible decision that could be made.
Fans and players were disappointed at the call, with Pakistani player Babar Azam stating that he has complete faith in Pakistani security and the series would have brought smiles to the faces of millions of fans at home.
Security was much heavier for this series, as roadblocks had been set up several kilometers outside the stadium. The players were guarded outside their hotel and the hotel was picked to be very close to the ground
The Pakistan Cricket Board was unhappy as well, issuing a statement which said, that the New Zealand Cricket Board had been alerted of security threats and called off the series “unilaterally” The statement also said that the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Government of Pakistan had made “foolproof security arrangements” for all visiting teams.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that players’ safety needed to be prioritized. She said that she thanked Imran Khan for hosting Team New Zealand and taking care of the players. She added that she understands how disappointing it must be for the fans and the teams, but the safety of the players was the most important.
This series was initially part of the 2020-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, which serves as part of the qualification process for the Cricket World Cup in 2023. However, it was later announced that it would not be part of the super league and would be a bilateral league due to the unavailability of the Decision Review System.
Pakistan will host Team England in October, but with Team New Zealand calling off this series, there is no certainty that the series against England will continue. Several teams including West Indies and Australia are also scheduled to have a series against Pakistan over the next few months.