NZ’s tour of Pakistan subject to security clearance after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
Karachi: New Zealand will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan subject to a clearance from security consultant Reg Dickason after some Kiwi players expressed concerns about touring the country following Taliban’s takeover of neighbouring Afghanistan.
New Zealand are due to reach Islamabad on September 11 to play three ODIs and five T20 Internationals in Rawalpindi and Lahore until October 3.
However, New Zealand Cricket officials have now commissioned international security consultant and expert, Reg Dickason to visit Pakistan later this week to carry out a thorough security and COVID-19 assessment before advising them whether they should send their team to Pakistan.
“Dickason has been a regular visit to Pakistan to carry out security and other cricket related assessments for the International Cricket Council and other boards in recent years so we are confident there is no one better than him to give a compressive report on the security situation in the region following the events in Afghanistan,” an official source in the Pakistan Cricket board, said.
New Zealand are already set to field a depleted team with seven to eight of their leading players, including captain, Kane Williamson, not coming due to their IPL commitments.
Williamson and senior players like Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Siefert, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchel Santner have skipped the tour because of their commitments in the T20 event, while others like Tim Southee and Devon Conway are also unavailable for the Pakistan tour.
New Zealand Cricket said on Wednesday that the players would have the right to withdraw from the tour if they felt uneasy about touring Pakistan even if the tour went ahead on the advice of Dickason and other assessments.
New Zealand will be captained by senior batsman Tom Latham during the tour, which will be their first to the country since 2003.
NZ cricket also has sent one of their officials and a security consultant in Bangladesh for a reconnaissance visit as their team first visits Bangladesh and than flies to Pakistan.
ODI series against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka is on: PCB
The Pakistan Cricket Board is confident that the political upheaval in Afghanistan will not affect their ODI series and, in fact, the Taliban authorities have given green light to the national team to play the matches in Sri Lanka as scheduled.
A well-informed source in the PCB said that they had got positive signals from their counterparts in Afghanistan about the series.
“The series appears to be on and the indications we have got is that the Taliban authorities have given green light for the series,” he said.
“We are going ahead with our plans and we will announce our squad as soon as the second test against the West Indies ends on 24th August,” he added.
The Afghanistan players have started training in Kabul while the PCB also announced that a training camp would be set up in Lahore from August 21 to 28 for the series with the Pakistan squad scheduled to leave on 29th for Sri Lanka.
It is believed that for the new regime in Afghanistan there was no better way to send out a message to the international community about their soft image than allowing the series to go ahead.
“They will have the series as it gives them a good opportunity to show the western world that they are different from when they previously ruled Afghanistan,” said an analyst.
Most of the leading Afghan players including Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rehman and some others are already in England taking part in the ‘Hundred’ tournament.
The Afghanistan Board will hosting the three match series — the first bilateral contest between the two national teams — from September 1 to 5 in Hambantota.
The series is part of the ICC’s qualifying league for the 2023 World Cup in India