New Zealand pulled out of the ODI and T20 series against Pakistan shortly before the start of the first match Friday | @ESPNcricinfo | Twitter
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New Delhi: There is rage and conspiracy theories on Pakistani social media after New Zealand cricket board called off the tour citing “security threat” minutes before the first one-day international match in Rawalpindi Friday afternoon.

Frome fans to former players to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials, everyone directed their anger either towards New Zealand for depriving them of a potentially competitive limited overs series, or towards India or the West for allegedly influencing New Zealand’s last-minute decision. Some social media users including from India, however, engaged in casual bigotry, in the form of jokes and memes.

Solidarity and ridicule

An artwork by a Pakistani graphic designer Atif Ullah simply called it “The Betrayal”.

Pakistani fan Abdullah Neaz, for instance, referenced a line by Arshad Warsi’s character Circuit from the Munnabhai films to poke fun at the last-minute nature of New Zealand’s cancellation.

Another user posted a meme from Priyadarshan’s 2006 comedy film Bhagam Bhag, imagining Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan hurling a jibe at New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern for pulling out of the tour.

A Pakistani account posted a meme from Kaun Banega Crorepati while mocking New Zealand’s “security threat” argument.

User Muhammad Faheem reflected on the flipping of views of Pakistani cricket fans towards New Zealand, in light of the situation

An anonymous Indian user’s bigoted tweet made light of past terrorist attacks in Pakistan by posting a meme from the 2007 comedy film Dhamaal.

Another centred their ‘joke’ on Jacinda Ardern’s wearing of a headscarf, and termed it as her “solidarity” to the Pakistan team.

Facebook groups like the Pakistan Cricket Memes Club also had plenty of materials to work with.


Also read: Ramiz ‘Rambo’ Raja is on a roll and Pakistani cricket fans are grilling him


Beyond the memes

Led by wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham, the New Zealand men’s team had arrived in Pakistan for a full limited overs tour of three ODI and five Twenty20 internationals to be played in Rawalpindi and Lahore, respectively.

However, neither team showed up to the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday afternoon for the first ODI and just minutes before the scheduled toss, the entire tour was cancelled due to an alleged “security threat” flagged by the New Zealand government.

“…following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement, and added that it would “not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.”

On the other hand, Pakistan’s response was swift and damning, with the PCB insisting that the security arrangements were “fool proof” and lamented New Zealand’s “unilateral” decision.

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja went one step further, questioning “which world” New Zealand is living in, and threatened to take the issue up with the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Pakistan’s sentiments were shared by current members of the Pakistan men’s squad and several ex-players and commentators, whose thoughts were also reposted by the PCB.

Others like Australian blogger Dennis Freedman, who has a significant fan following in Pakistan, drew both praise and ire from Pakistanis, as he first declared Pakistan as one of the safest countries he has travelled to, and later urged Pakistanis to not post hate against New Zealanders.

(Edited by Prashant)

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