10 players left out of Pakistan squad for England tour over COVID-19: PCB

Pakistan’s cricket team will leave for its tour of England on Sunday without 10 players, after they tested positive for coronavirus at least once this week, the Pakistan Cricket Board has said.

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The board’s chief executive Wasim Khan, in a video conference with the media on Saturday, said that players and officials underwent two rounds of testing.

“Eighteen players who had tested negative in their first round of testing have again tested negative as have 11 officials from the team management,” said Wasim.

Players 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.

Of these, four players were such that tested positive both times — Kashif, Haris, Haider and Imran, whereas the remaining six — Hasnain, Shadab, Fakhar, Rizwan, Wahab and Hafeez — tested negative the second time around.

Wasim went on to say that the six players, despite having tested negative the second time around, will not be going to England, bringing the total number of players dropped from the squad to 10.

The team’s masseur Malang Ali tested positive twice.

Waseem said that in England, the team will once more undergo testing within the first 24 hours of arrival.

“No questions have been raised by England over our testing methods,” he said.

Waseem said that bowling coach Waqar Younis underwent testing in Australia and has been diagnosed negative. Younis will fly for England from there, he added.

He said the players left behind “have not been abandoned” and can rejoin the squad of 18 players once they have taken two negative tests.

Of the five reserve players, he said four — Moosa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Bilal Asif and Mohammad Nawaz — had tested negative and one — Imran Butt — had tested positive.

Waseem said Zafar Gohar will also join the team in England. “He has only been called for practice,” he added.

The PCB subsequently announced the 20-player side in a statement, with Azhar Ali to lead the squad and Babar Azam named as vice-captain.

Pakistan’s tour of England is set to include three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals.

The squad will have a 14-day isolation period on arrival before continuing their preparations ahead of the first Test with two internal 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 said the behind-closed-doors match schedule would be announced in “due course”.

Pakistan is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, with nearly 200,000 declared cases and more than 4,000 deaths, while cases are falling in Britain.

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