A policeman stands guard on the empty stands of the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. New Zealand today postponed a series of one day internationals against Pakistan over security concerns, local board officials and New Zealand's cricket body said, minutes after the first match was due to start. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: New Zealand’s ongoing cricket tour of Pakistan has been abandoned due to security concerns.

New Zealand’s cricket team refused to travel today to the stadium in Rawalpindi where they were due to to play the first one-day international against Pakistan, citing security concerns, two Pakistani officials said.

“Our security officials and Pakistan cricket board has been trying to convince the team for hours, but that didn’t work,” said a top security official with direct knowledge of the security details on the visiting team.

First time in 18 years

Another Pakistani government official also said the team wasn’t ready to enter the stadium on security grounds.

New Zealand is visiting Pakistan for the first time in 18 years to play three one-day internationals and five Twenty20 matches in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

"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," NZC said in a statement.

Pakistani policemen walk on the stands of the empty Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. Image Credit: AFP

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," he said.

Best interests

NZC said arrangements are now being made for the team's departure. New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed White's sentiments.

"We've been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they're safe - and everyone's acting in their best interests," he said.

NZC said it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.