New Zealand Cricket is pulling out of the tour of Pakistan ©Getty Images

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has withdrawn its men's team from their tour of Pakistan minutes before the first match, citing security concerns, and the decision has not gone down well with the hosts.

An NZC statement blamed "an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground" for the decision.

It added that arrangements were now being made for the team to leave Pakistan.

NZC chief executive David White said: "I understand this will be a blow for the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board], who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option."

The first one-day international (ODI) was due to take place this morning in Rawalpindi, but the teams never went to the stadium and NZC has now confirmed that the eight-match tour - comprising three ODIs and five Twenty20 games - is off.

It was due to be the first time in 18 years that Pakistan had hosted New Zealand, and the PCB has not taken kindly to the tourists' withdrawal, insisting it is still prepared to go ahead with the matches.

"PCB and Govt of Pakistan made fool proof security arrangements for all visiting teams", insisted the PCB in a statement.

Ramped-up security measures were in place for New Zealand's first tour of Pakistan in 18 years ©Getty Images
Ramped-up security measures were in place for New Zealand's first tour of Pakistan in 18 years ©Getty Images

"We have assured the NZ cricket board of the same. 

"The Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best Intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.

"The security officials with the NZ team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Govt of Pakistan throughout their stay here.

"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. 

"However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal."

New Zealand recently completed a series in Bangladesh before moving on to Pakistan.

The team's withdrawal from the tour will be a serious blow for the PCB - both financially and in terms of reputation, as other teams due to play there, including England's men and women next month, could follow suit.