Prospect of 24×7 security cover had a ‘negative impact’ on the mental status of terrified Kiwi players.
New Delhi: The ISIS-executed suicide bombing at Kabul international airport on 26 August was one of the reasons behind the New Zealand cricket team’s decision to abandon their tour of Pakistan on Friday.
The “increase in threat level” that the New Zealand officials and security advisors for the cricket team referred to as their reason for thedecision, was the imminent possibility of the ISIS executing a Kabul-like attack against the visiting New Zealand team.
Sources aware of the development said that the 24×7 security cover consisting of armed Pakistani security personnel shadowing the Kiwi players, too, had a “negative impact” on the mental status of the players, limiting their ability to play in such a “scary” situation, said one official with the Dubai-based office of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
As per reports, 4,000 commandos, policemen, who prominently displayed their sophisticated weapons as a security protocol to thwart attackers from coming near the Kiwi team, were assigned by Moeed Yusuf, the National Security Advisor of Pakistan, to assure the visitors of their safety in the volatile country.
On 26 August, ISIS suicide bombers and gunmen killed atleast 169 Afghan civilians and 13 American soldiers at the high security Kabul international airport. The attackers were able to carry out the exercise despite the local security officials and a strong contingent of US forces being on extra alert after receiving inputs of a possible ISIS suicide attack on the airport where foreigners and locals were congregating in a bid to escape Afghanistan in view of the Taliban taking over the country.
The approach roads to the airport were under the strict security of the Taliban and yet the ISIS bombers and attackers were able to reach the airport. The Sunday Guardianhad reported on 21 August about an imminent terror threat on the visiting New Zealand cricket team from ISIS and reached out to the New Zealand cricket board and ICC regarding the same(New Zealand cricket team may face terror attack in Pakistan).
The New Zealand cricket team had arrived in Islamabad on 10 September from Bangladesh by chartered flight. The team was supposed to play three One-Day Internationals at the Rawalpindi Stadium and five T20s at the Gaddafi Stadium of Lahore. The tour was to end on 3 October.
The New Zealand cricket team was the first side to visit Pakistan as per the itinerary shared by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). They were to be followed by England’s men and women sides after which the West Indies team would be visiting the country in December. The Australian team is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan in February 2022. However, with the decision of the New Zealand board, there is a strong possibility that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), too, will not undertake the upcoming tour.