Pakistan cricket team leaves for England on Sunday sans 10 virus-hit players
Pakistan's cricket team will leave for its tour of England on Sunday without 10 players after they tested positive for coronavirus for a second time.
The Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed 20 players and 11 player support personnel will travel on a chartered flight to Manchester on Sunday morning for a three-Test and three T20I series to be played in August and September.
After first testing positive this week, follow-up tests were given to Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain and Kashif Bhatti. Of those missing the start, only wicketkeeper Rizwan would be classed a first-choice Test player.
Six of the ten cricketers who had earlier tested positive for Covid-19 - Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hasnain - have returned negative results when tested again.
The six players who have now tested negative will undergo third round of testing at some stage next week and if their tests remain negative, then the PCB will make arrangements to send them to England.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “I want to reassure the players and the official left behind that the PCB will provide them best support and look after them during the quarantine period. It needs to be remembered that these players were asymptomatic, which means their chances of regaining complete fitness are higher and brighter than most. As soon as these players test negative twice through the PCB testing process they will be flown to England to join the squad.”
“I am aware Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz took personal tests outside of our process prior to the second PCB testing. While their results came up negative, as per the PCB testing programme, they are deemed to have one negative test following a positive test. Therefore, once they are retested and receive a second negative result under the PCB testing programme, they will be available to join the squad in England.”
Pakistan's tour of England is set to include three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals.
Upon arrival in Manchester, the squad will be transported to Worcestershire where they will undergo the England and Wales Cricket Board testing before completing their 14-day isolation period, during which they will be allowed to train and practice. The side will move to Derbyshire on 13 July.
In a positive news, all 18 players and 11 player support personnel, who had tested negative for Covid-19 in the first round of tests on Monday, have again returned negative in Thursday’s retests.
Kashif Bhatti, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Imran Khan had tested positive again, as had team masseur Malang Ali.
All the players and support staffers who had tested negative earlier were also retested, and there was no change in their status. A reserve player Imran Butt has also tested positive.
Besides the 29 members, tests of fast bowler Musa Khan and Pakistan U19 captain and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir, along with three other reserve players, were also conducted on Thursday and they have also returned negative.
As such, Musa and Rohail have been included in the first group of travellers, which is:
Players: Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, and Yasir Shah. Zafar Gohar, the left-arm spinner who played an ODI in 2015, will join the side from England and will only be involved in pre-match preparations.
Player support personnel: Mansoor Rana (manager), Misbah-ul-Haq (head coach), Younis Khan (batting coach), Mushtaq Ahmed (spin bowling coach), Shahid Aslam (assistant coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Talha Butt (team analyst), Yasir Malik (strength and conditioning coach), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor), Lt Col (retd) Usman Riffat (security manager) and Raza Kitchlew (media and digital content manager).
Cliffe Deacon and Waqar Younis will join the side directly from South Africa and Australia, respectively, while Shoaib Malik is expected to travel around 24 July.
Following advice from leading sports science experts and as per the UK government regulations, players who have tested positive during the PCB testing process will be unable to travel on Sunday.
However, they will be sent to England as soon as their two tests return negative.
Amongst the four reserves players, who were tested on Wednesday, only Imran Butt has tested positive, while the tests of Bilal Asif, Mohammad Nawaz and Musa Khan were negative.
The five players and the masseur, who have are positive, have been advised by the PCB medical panel to observe strict quarantine to protect their families and friends from the contagion. As in the past, the PCB medical panel will provide them complete support and continue to monitor their progress.
These players will undergo tests following the completion of the quarantine period and will be sent to England following two negative tests.
Wasim Khan said with the Test series being played first in August, Misbah is satisfied with the group of players that are traveling on Sunday as the focus will be on red-ball preparation.
“Misbah understands that flexibility and adaptability will be needed with his training and practice schedule while operating under various guidelines. “