Pakistan cricket team on its way to England
20 players, 11 officials leave for Manchester as the side gears up to face England
As many as 20 players and 11 support personnel of the Pakistan men's senior team on Sunday departed for Manchester as the side gears up to face England. Both Pakistan and England are slated to play three Tests and three T20Is in a bio-secure bubble and the dates for the tour will be announced in due course.
Taking to Twitter, Babar Azam, the skipper of Pakistan's white-ball team, said: "On our way to another historic Pakistan tour to England. It’s always great to play in England and I look forward to getting on this journey with our talented bunch of players. Fans, as always we would be in need of your prayers, love, and unconditional support. #PAKvENG #RiseAndRise."
On our way to another historic Pakistan tour to England. Its always great to play in England and I look forward to get on this journey with our talented bunch of players. Fans, as always we would be in need of you prayers, love and unconditional support. #PAKvENG #RiseAndRise pic.twitter.com/8KLFQjAYNU— Babar Azam (@babarazam258) June 28, 2020
The PCB had initially planned to send a squad of 29 players to England, but ten players tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week.
On Saturday, Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, announced that six of those ten players returned negative results when they were tested for the second time. So, as a result, 20 players and 11 members of the support staff will be travelling to England first. The rest of the players will join the squad later after returning two negative tests.
Players who have departed for England were: 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.
Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain and Kashif Bhatti first tested positive earlier this week.
Follow-up tests found Bhatti, Rauf, Ali and Imran Khan were still positive. Reserve players Rohail Nazir and Musa Khan will also fly out.
The squad will have a 14-day isolation period on arrival in England before continuing their preparations ahead of the first Test with two four-day warm-up matches.
It is expected that the first Test will take place in Manchester in August but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the behind-closed-doors match schedule would be announced in "due course".
Wasim Khan said Pakistan were observing ECB guidelines. "We were given protocols by the ECB which we have followed. Players are likely to be tested five to seven times before the first Test in England and that is to be done for their safety," he said.
Pakistan had last played Test cricket in February this year against Bangladesh. They were scheduled to play the second Test later in April, but the match was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, with over 200,000 declared cases and more than 4,000 deaths, while cases are falling in Britain.