Pak vs NZ: Black Caps’ tour to Pakistan in doubt amid Afghanistan turmoil

New Zealand’s long-awaited tour to Pakistan has become subject to certain security concerns after the Taliban ousted President Ashraf Ghani in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The New Zealand Cricket expects its squad to depart for Bangladesh according to schedule next week, Stuff reported, as the 15-man Kiwis squad is set to depart from Auckland on Monday for a five-match T20I series starting in Dhaka on September 1.

Heath Mills, the head of the NZ Cricket Players Association, told the publication that longtime independent security consultant Reg Dickason would visit Pakistan for a detailed assessment of the situation there.

“We’re very comfortable with the process we’ve got, but notwithstanding that, with events in Afghanistan in the last few days, it’s very sad what’s happening in that country and people are obviously asking questions of our security check processes,” Mills told Stuff.

“That includes players, which is completely understandable. We just need to assure them of the process, and follow it, and reach a determination.”

Dickason is scheduled to undertake a standard security check which is applicable to every tour, Mills said, which is in line with the agreement between the NZCPA and NZC.

“That will take him four or five days and then he’ll report back, and recommend whether the tour goes ahead, or it doesn’t for whatever reason […] if there are changes to whatever the plan might be.”

Even if the tour moves forward as planned, the Black Caps can exit Pakistan at any time that Dickason feels “uncomfortable” with the squad’s presence in the country, he said.

“If any players decided not to tour for safety reasons they could withdraw without fear of repercussions from NZC. None had yet indicated they were reconsidering their place on the tours,” Stuff reported, quoting Mills.

PCB promises state-level security

Responding to the development, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has promised state-level security for the visiting team, The News reported Thursday.

PCB is in constant communication with the New Zealand board and has discussed all the issues related to the series, an official from the cricket board told the publication.

The PCB and the Kiwi board went into details of the Pakistan and New Zealand series in which the issues on and off the field were discussed, he said.

“The PCB officials assured the Kiwi board of foolproof security. The New Zealand board has said it will send a security expert to Pakistan,” the official said.

The schedule

New Zealand are scheduled to play three ODIs and five T20Is on their visit to Pakistan — the first one after an 18-year hiatus.

The three ODIs will be part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs, both boards had confirmed.

Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium is the venue of the 17, 19, and 21 September ODIs, while the iconic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will stage the five T20Is from September 25 to October 3, as per the PCB’s press release.

Series schedule

11 Sep – Arrival in Islamabad

12-14 Sep – Room isolation

15-16 Sep – Training/practice/intra-squad match

17 Sep – 1st ODI, Rawalpindi

19 Sep – 2nd ODI, Rawalpindi

21 Sep – 3rd ODI, Rawalpindi

25 Sep – 1st T20I, Lahore

26 Sep – 2nd T20I, Lahore

29 Sep – 3rd T20I, Lahore

1 Oct – 4th T20I, Lahore

3 Oct – 5th T20I, Lahore