By Ehsan Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
New Zealand have deserted the Pakistan tour abruptly which may have huge negative impact in a bid to fully restore international cricket in the country. Tom Latham's team, in a blink of an eye, called off Pakistan tour after a mysterious security alert.
The Black Caps had landed in Pakistan after a wait of 18 years to play a short series of three One-day Internationals in Rawalpindi which were to be followed by five Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore. But a security alert shattered and shook everything.
Scores of cricket enthusiasts waiting to enter the Pindi Stadium on and millions preparing to watch action on television across the globe on September 17 were obviously shell shocked upon hearing the news of cancellation of the tour.
After NZ pulling off the tour, England’s men and women teams next month’s short tour is also in doubt while Australia and West Indies, scheduled to tour Pakistan next season, might also be jeopardized. So this abrupt cancellation of the series may harm the Pakistan cricket in a big way.
"This is a huge blow to Pakistan cricket," Javed Miandad, a former Pakistan captain, thought.
"When our forces were providing New Zealand security of highest level, their calling off the tour was unjustified,” the legendary batsman, who had slammed 163 on his Test debut against New Zealand in 1976-77, pointed out.
"Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players. Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not shared!! Which world is NZ living in??NZ will hear us at ICC,” the newly elected PCB Chairman, Ramiz Raja, tweeted.
It was indeed a stressful and deeply disappointing day for top government, PCB officials, millions cricket lovers in Pakistan and across the globe.
"Our security agencies have no reports of any attack on New Zealand team nor they shared any information with us,” he declared.
Shaikh Rasheed said that a small hoax security alert caused a massive fiasco and Black Caps calling off the tour on the basis of hearsay was upsetting and disappointing.
Without naming anyone, Interior Minister thought the New Zealand action to be a conspiracy against Pakistan and Pakistan cricket. “Our enemies don’t want to see security and stability returning to our region after withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan and formation of Taliban Government,” he said, alleging that enemies and foreign elements had joined hands to sabotage Pakistan cricket.
While the television channels broke the news in afternoon and kept debating the issue late into the evening, the national newspapers carried banner headlines of the New Zealanders calling off tour the following morning.