WELLINGTON: New Zealand is weighing up playing cricket in Pakistan for the first time in 15 years after an invitation from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
New Zealand have not played in Pakistan since 2003 due to security concerns but had been asked to play T20 matches in the country later this year, governing body New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said.
“NZC has received a request from the PCB chairman for New Zealand to play in Pakistan,” an NZC spokesman said.
“At the moment NZC is doing due diligence on the request and consulting with security providers, the government, and the players.
“We will respond to the PCB when this process has been completed.”
The Black Caps are scheduled to play tests and one-day internationals against Pakistan in November at the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country’s designated ‘home’ base.
No dates have been issued for those matches but the spokesman said they would be played in the UAE.
Pakistan has remained largely starved of international cricket since the 2009 attacks on a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s team in Lahore.
However, Sri Lanka returned to the country for a T20 match in Lahore in October and West Indies played a recent T20 series in Karachi.
New Zealand abandoned their last test tour of Pakistan in 2002 after a bomb exploded outside their Karachi hotel but returned to play an ODI series in 2003.
Pakistan media, citing an unnamed source at the PCB, reported that Australia have also been approached to play in the country.
Australia is scheduled to play tests and limited overs matches against Pakistan at the UAE later in the year, likely starting in September or October.
Cricket Australia (CA) declined to confirm the approach but said their next series against Pakistan would remain in the Middle East.
“The safety and security of Australian players is our number one priority,” a CA spokesman said.
“From an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the Middle East, when they host the next series.
According to media reports, PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Subhan Ahmad had held talks with the Australian and New Zealand officials during the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Kolkata late last month.
Pakistan’s security arrangements for the matches against World Eleven, West Indies and for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches held in Lahore and Karachi this year earned praise from the board members and from independent reports of security experts, according to the reports.