On Tuesday (June 23), Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz have all tested positive for Covid-19. Following this, three other players – Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf – also tested positive on Monday.
One of the supporting staff, Malang Ali, the masseuse, has also contracted the virus. A 29-member squad was announced by the PCB for the tour of England which is likely to be held in August. However, with the players testing positive, the tour seems dicey at the moment.
“The PCB medical panel is already in contact with these players and the masseur, who have been instructed to observe strict quarantine at their homes for their and their families’ wellbeing,” the board said in a release.
Other players such as – Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah – have tested negative for Covid-19.
The players who have tested negative for Covid-19 will gather in Lahore on June 24 and depart for the tour on June 28. After being cleared, they will also train and practice in the bio-secure environment set up by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule,” PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said.
“Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practising immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England. In the meantime, Misbah-ul-Haq is reviewing the training schedule in England and is firming up plans for reserve players to be tested as a backup.”
The players who have tested positive will not be ruled out of the tournament. The board will await their recovery to join rest of the squad in England and will undergo another test. The PCB have confirmed the players will undergo five Covid-19 tests before the start of the first Test match.
Shoaib Malik, who has been allowed to join the side, hasn’t been tested yet, along with Cliffe Deacon and Waqar Younis. Meanwhile, the players to be tested on Thursday (June 29) are Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Mohammad Nawaz, Musa Khan and Rohail Nazir. While Bilal, Imran, Nawaz and Musa were in the reserves list in the official squad, Rohail has been added to the team as a backup wicket-keeper.
The ten players and one support staff who were tested positive, will be retested on Friday, and the results of those will be revealed on Saturday, confirmed the PCB.
The first Test match between the two countries is scheduled to play at the Lord’s before Pakistan travels to Manchester and Nottingham for the next two tests. The three T20s will be conducted in Leeds, Cardiff and Southampton, respectively.
However, the official dates of the tournament are yet to be confirmed.
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