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Friday, September 17, 2021

Blackcaps pull out of Pakistan tour !!


Rawalpindi is in news !  - earlier  Authorities had warned against water crises in Islamabad, Rawalpindi .. .. today it is a grave International crisis for them !!

Rawalpindi  is the capital city of Rawalpindi Division located in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It lies  adjacent to Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, and the two are jointly known as the "twin cities" on account of strong social and economic links between the cities. Rawalpindi is located on the Pothohar Plateau, known for its ancient Buddhist heritage, especially in the neighbouring town of Taxila – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The city was destroyed during the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni before being taken over by Gakhars in 1493. In 1765, the ruling Gakhars were defeated as the city came under Sikh rule, and eventually became a major city within the Sikh Empire based in Lahore. The city was conquered by the British Raj in 1849, and in 1851 became the largest garrison town of the British Indian Army.  Not any history post but something happening at Rawalpindi or should have happened at Pindi – now has Pak up in anger !

New Zealand have called off their limited-overs tour of Pakistan citing security concerns, leaving the cricket community in Pakistan unimpressed. PCB chairman Ramiz Raja was especially critical of the New Zealand Cricket decision, saying, "Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it is not shared! Which world is NZ living in? NZ will hear us at ICC."

The news that shook them is - BLACKCAPS are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert.  The Kiwis were to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series. However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.

Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.  NZC chief executive David White said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving. “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.” New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed Mr White’s sentiments.  NZC will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.  

The PCB said the decision by the NZC would disappoint cricket lovers. "Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series," the PCB statement said.   Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.

It will not end with Kiwis !! perhaps !!!  The chances of England going ahead with their proposed tour to Pakistan in October would appear to have receded sharply, in the wake of New Zealand's decision to abandon their ongoing tour due to a security threat. England's men and women teams are currently due to play two T20Is in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14, with the women due to stay on for a three-match ODI series as well. But, in the wake of New Zealand's decision - minutes before the scheduled start of their first ODI in Rawalpindi - the ECB have confirmed they are reviewing their plans, with a decision expected in the next "24-48 hours".

Given that NZC and the ECB use the same security consultants - ESI Risk - to advise on such matters, it would be a major surprise if England proceeded with the tour. "We're aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert," an ECB spokesperson said. "We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation. The ECB Board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed."

The tour would have been a significant moment for Pakistan cricket. England have not visited the country since 2005 due to security concerns, but agreed this two-match series as a sign of gratitude at Pakistan's assistance in helping them stage cricket during the English summer of 2020 when the nation was in lockdown. Pakistan's players were obliged to spend an extended period of time in a bio-bubble to ensure the ECB were able to stage the series. Any cancellation may also hit both teams' preparations for the T20 World Cup which follows.  It also leaves England's plans for the winter up in the air. They have already seen their tour of Bangladesh cancelled and are currently waiting for assurances from Cricket Australia before confirming their Ashes plans.

A few years ago, in Mar 2009,  on a  dark day for Cricket occurred; at Gadaffi stadium, Thilan Samaraweera notched  up his second successive Test double century following his 231 in the First Test at Karachi.  Thilan became the  sixth batsman after Walter Hammond, Don Bradman, Vinod Kambli, Kumar Sangakkara and Graeme Smith to score successive double centuries in Test matches.  Then the next day, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricket team as they were on their way to stadium in Lahore.  Dawn news channel showed footage of two gunmen opening fire using Kalashnikovs. Six policemen  were  dead, three more are seriously injured.  

The attackers exploded two bombs and men started firing at a police van which was providing security to the Lankan team.   Some players sustained injuries.  The players later left from the stadium by helicopter – that sounded a death-knell for Cricket in Pakistan – though Abu dhabi offered its premises for matches involving Pak later.  The safety of touring cricket teams in Pakistan had long been in issue. In May 2002, New Zealand abandoned their Test series in Pakistan after a suicide bomb attack outside their hotel.  In fact, the Sri Lankan cricket team was in Pakistan as a replacement for the Indian team, who had pulled out after the Mumbai attacks and Pak had offered to arrange "presidential-style security. Pakistan have had to play their “home” matches in venues ranging from Dubai to London ever since that shooting.

.. .. that way, BlackCaps pulling out is a big blow to Paki Cricket

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Sept. 2021.

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