Pakistan Women cut Zimbabwe tour short over return flight fears

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have mutually agreed to end Pakistan Women’s national cricket team’s ongoing tour to Harare due to the latest travel policies of the visiting side’s carrier, Emirates Airlines.

Pakistan won the opening 50-over match on 9 February and were due to play the second one-dayer on Friday, with the final match of the tour set for 20 February.

The tourists were originally scheduled to depart on 21 February.

However, following Emirates Airlines’ announcement that it had suspended its flight operations on the Harare-Dubai route from 13 to 28 February, both boards have decided to end the tour after the first match with Pakistan Women now scheduled to leave Harare on Friday, 12 February.

The development is a massive blow for Zimbabwe Women who were looking forward to the rest of the series after they went down to Pakistan Women by 178 runs in the first one-day match played at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday, which was the home side’s first international game in almost two years.

“It is unfortunate that the Pakistan Women’s team have had to cut short their stay in Zimbabwe as a precautionary move after some unforeseen air travel complications arose, but their concern is understandable,” ZC Managing Director Givemore Makoni said.

“Nonetheless, we would like to thank the PCB for having in the first place committed to the historic tour which we have no doubt would have been memorable and a massive boost for our women’s game had it not been discontinued. “We hope to host them again in the near future.”

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “It has been a difficult decision considering Zimbabwe Cricket had put in place excellent arrangements for the series.

“But the decision by Emirates Airlines to suspend all flights to and from Harare from 13 February to 28 February has meant that we have to bring the squad back in the next 24 hours.

“We thank Zimbabwe Cricket for their understanding and support, and hope to return at some stage to complete this additional tour.”

Both Zimbabwe and Pakistan were using the now abandoned tour as part of their preparations for the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021, a 10-team tournament that will be held in June and July.

The top three teams from that qualifying event will progress to the 50-over ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 in New Zealand.