New Zealand team arrive in Pakistan after 18 years

Islamabad: The New Zealand team has arrived in Pakistan after 18 years for a white-ball tour featuring three ODIs and five T20Is. The Tom Latham-led side landed at the Islamabad airport on Saturday and headed to the hotel where they will serve a three-day mandatory isolation before starting practice from September 15, according to the itinerary released by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

New Zealand had abandoned its tour of Pakistan in 2002 after a bomb exploded outside the team hotel in Karachi. The explosion happened two hours before the start of the second Test. The Black Caps returned to play five ODIs in 2003, which was its last trip of Pakistan.

The 2021 trip also brings former Sri Lankan cricketer Thilan Samaraweera back to the country. Samaraweera was a member of the Sri Lankan team attacked by militants near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009. After Sri Lanka abandoned the tour immediately, Samaraweera was treated for shrapnel shots in the left thigh and took three months after surgery to remove the bullet to get back on the field. He is now serving as a member of the coaching staff of the New Zealand team on their tours of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

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In the meantime, the three ODIs scheduled to be played on September 17, 19, 21 in Rawalpindi will not be counted in the ICC ODI Super League and will be played as a bilateral series. Pakistan have 40 points from four wins out of nine matches, standing at sixth place in the table. New Zealand have won all three matches, picking 30 points and are ranked tenth in the table.

“Pakistan Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket have mutually agreed to change the status of next week’s ODI series to a bilateral series from the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League fixtures due to the non-availability of Decision Review System (DRS), a requirement in the event playing conditions,” read the statement by PCB.

“As New Zealand will return to Pakistan in the 2022-23 season to play two Tests and three ODIs, the two boards have agreed that these 50-over matches will now count towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification,” further said the statement.

After the three ODIs, New Zealand will play five T20Is against Pakistan on September 25, 26, 29, October 1, and 3 at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

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