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3 seniors, Butler opt out of Pak tour

Hyderabad: All is not well with the New Zealand team. They are fighting to seal a final berth in the ongoing TVS Cup tri-series and apart from that four of their players have pulled out of the tour of Pakistan that follows.

The players were given an option. It was up to them to decide whether to travel across the border from India. Seniors Craig McMillan, Scott Styris and Lou Vincent, along with young fast bowler Ian Butler, decided against it.

The blast near the team hotel in Karachi during the New Zealand-Pakistan series last year is still to be forgotten. Team video analyst Zach Hitchcock has also dropped out.

According to team manager Ashley Crocker, replacements are yet to be named.

“The players were told that they are free to decide on whether they will tour Pakistan. They were allowed to give it a miss if they were seriously concerned about safety,” said the manager on Thursday.

Added to this, and before the quartet of players chose to opt out of the five-match one-day series, the New Zealand consulate in Tehran was warned earlier this week of dire consequences in case their team travelled to Pakistan. New Zealand do not have an embassy in Pakistan.

The source of this threat, via an e-mail, is unknown.

Crocker said the players will sit together once more before deciding whether to go to Pakistan. The trip has not been cancelled yet.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) in an announcement said the issue has been referred to the ICC and that the validity of the threat is being investigated. The New Zealand team is scheduled to leave for Pakistan on November 19, a day after the tri-series final in Calcutta.

If the Black Caps do not reach the final, they will not go to Calcutta and leave for Pakistan via Mumbai.

This is, of course, subject to what the players and the NZC decide in the wake of the threat received in Tehran.

Reuters adds from Karachi: Meanwhile, the Pakistan cricket authorities expressed disappointment at the pullout. “That four players are pulling out is inexplicable,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman Samiul Hassan said. “We are disappointed and we will write a letter to NZC to register our disappointment.”

“Security is perfect. Recently South Africa toured Pakistan and played five one-day games and three Test matches, so that’s not a problem,” Hassan said.

“It’s a matter between New Zealand players and New Zealand Cricket (NZC). They have to deal with it. Naturally we would have liked a full-strength New Zealand team to come to Pakistan,” he added.

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