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ISLAMABAD, Sept. 18, (AP): The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman says New Zealand’s abrupt withdrawal from its tour on security grounds has put an unwanted question mark over Pakistan’s ability to host international matches. A 33-member Black Caps squad was due to fly back home later Saturday after New Zealand abandoned its tour to Pakistan minutes before the start of the first one-day international at Rawalpindi on Friday. “There’s a lot of pressure created on Pakistan cricket and (especially) Pakistan cricket at home,” PCB chairman Ramiz Raja told cricket fans in a video message released Saturday. “The fight to survive is the base on which we challenge the whole world. If such a situation is developed (again) when international cricket comes under pressure in Pakistan, we will challenge them once again.”
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) declined to reveal the nature of the security alert from its own government that prompted the sudden decision to cancel the tour during which the Kiwis were scheduled to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi and five Twenty20s at Lahore. However, a government minister in Pakistan said New Zealand was wary of attack outside the stadium in Rawalpindi which prompted the Kiwis to call off the tour. Raja, who was elected PCB chairman last Monday, was frustrated after New Zealand took a unilateral decision to pull out despite spending five days in the federal capital and having two training sessions at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.
Raja was also disappointed as New Zealand did not share the security threat with either the PCB or the Pakistan government. He plans to raise the issue with the International Cricket Council. Raja is also a renowned cricket commentator and is known in the cricketing fraternity as the “Voice of Pakistan”. He appealed for Pakistan’s fans to help the team come out of this crisis. “Your pain and my pain are the same, it’s a shared pain,” he said. “Whatever happened is not good for Pakistan cricket … The point is that we have experienced this before but we have to move forward.” The New Zealand move has also put in doubt England’s short tour to Pakistan in October for a two-match Twenty20 series before the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. The England Cricket Board had said on Friday it will take the decision on the tour to Pakistan in the next 24-48 hours. Both England men’s and women’s teams are scheduled to tour Pakistan next month. Pakistan is due to play New Zealand in a World Cup group game on Oct. 26, two days after it takes on rival India in its opener. Raja thinks it could be an opportunity.