- The cricket series is planned for next month with matches scheduled to be held in Lahore and Rawalpindi
- Statement comes after several media outlets cast doubt over series due to situation in Afghanistan
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has clarified that New Zealand's tour of Pakistan will take place according to the announced schedule, dismissing recent reports that the plan could change due to recent developments in Afghanistan.
Speaking to Business Recorder, PCB Director Media & Communication Sami Ul Hasan Burney said that the 'historic tour' -- New Zealand's first to Pakistan after 18 years -- was on track.
Recent reports have suggested that the New Zealand Players' Association has raised questions over the uncertain security situation in Pakistan following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Stuff.NZ.co, a tabloid site in New Zealand, quoted the association’s chief Heath Mills saying that the the New Zealand cricket body's longtime independent security consultant Reg Dickason would visit Pakistan for a detailed assessment of the situation there.
“Heath Mills said team manager Mike Sandle and a security consultant were currently in Bangladesh to provide a final sign-off of security and Covid biosecurity arrangements. Then, next week, NZC’s longtime independent security consultant Reg Dickason would visit Pakistan for a detailed assessment of the situation there,” the website wrote, giving an impression that the visit was taking place due to Afghanistan's uncertain political situation.
The story quickly gained traction in Pakistani media with many prominent outlets saying that the tour may now be doubtful.
However, the PCB categorically rejected the reports, clarifying that Dickason’s visit to Pakistan is a routine visit, and was planned long before the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
“We are looking forward to the historic New Zealand tour. The NZC has not raised any security-related issue with the PCB. As for Dickason’ visit, it was planned long before the recent developments in the neighboring country and has nothing to do with it.”
New Zealand, who finished runners-up in the 2019 50-overs World Cup and are also the reigning world test champions, are scheduled to tour Pakistan for the first time in 18 years. Both teams will play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and five Twenty20 (T20Is), scheduled in Lahore and Rawalpindi from September 17 to October 3.
The visiting side will be devoid of seven of its key players including captain Kane Williamson due to their commitments with the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Still, the tour will be a confidence booster for Pakistan cricket with regards to hosting major international teams on its soil, and will certainly help with the team’s preparations for T20 World Cup, which is starting mid-October in the UAE.
The NZC has already announced ODI and T20 squads for Pakistan and Bangladesh tour, which would be led by seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham. Notably, no New Zealand player has yet indicated that they were reconsidering their place for the tours.
New Zealand squad for ODIs
Tom Latham (c) (wk), Finn Allen, Hamish Bennett, Tom Blundell (wk), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Cole McConchie, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Blair Tickner, Will Young.
New Zealand T20 squad
Tom Latham (c) (wk), Finn Allen, Todd Astle, Hamish Bennett, Tom Blundell (wk), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Ajaz Patel, Ish Sodhi, Ben Sears, Blair Tickner, Will Young.