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Six more players to join Pakistan squad in England soon

Sports

July 1, 2020

KARACHI: As Pakistan’s cricketers began training at the New Road Stadium in Worcester on Tuesday ahead of their three-Test series, the country’s cricket authorities were busy making travel arrangements for six more players to join them in England.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told ‘The News’ on Tuesday PCB’s logistics departments was busy finalising their travel arrangements after it was confirmed that six more players have returned negative Covid-19 tests and can now join Pakistan’s squad in England.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz are the six players who returned a second negative test on Tuesday.

“They will be put on the next available commercial flight to England,” the official said.

The six will join 20 of their team-mates, who are already in England preparing for the next month’s three-Test series. All of those 20 players who reached England last Sunday on a special chartered flight have tested negative for Covid-19 after which they were allowed to begin training at the New Road Stadium on Tuesday. Eleven team officials have also tested negative to coronavirus.

Pakistan’s preparations for the tour of England were hit badly after PCB failed to manage a bio-secure bubble in Lahore and had to give up plans for a pre-tour training camp. Then just days before Pakistan’s departure, ten members of the 29-member squad tested positive for Covid-19 and were forced to miss last Sunday’s fight to Manchester.

Among the players who will now join the squad, Hafeez and Wahab had earlier tested themselves at a private laboratory in the wake of their returning positive results after the first round of testing by the PCB. Although the re-test came back negative, the board didn’t consider the result valid as the tests were conducted outside the testing protocols.

Meanwhile, Kashif Bhatti, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Imran Khan have tested positive, but are believed to be asymptomatic and are in isolation. They will be tested again in a few days, with players needing to return two negative tests to become eligible for selection.

Team masseur Malang Ali has also tested positive twice while his back-up Mohammad Imran has tested positive once. Both will remain in Pakistan to finish another round of testing. The group that reached England late last week also underwent a fresh round of testing on Monday, and are awaiting their test results.

They will not be allowed to travel to England until they have recorded two consecutive negative tests.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s depleted squad had its maiden training session at the New Road Stadium in Worcester. The session was held under the under the supervision of head coach Misbah-ul-Haq. He has a star-studded team of support staff with Waqar Younis (bowling coach), Younis Khan (batting coach) and Mushtaq Ahmed (spin bowling coach). Pakistan’s players spent around three hours in the field getting tips from the seasoned quartet.

Pakistan’s players and officials are currently are in mandatory 14-day quarantine in Worcester but have been allowed to train after returning negative tests on Tuesday. After the end of the quarantine period, the squad will move to Derby where it will play a series of intra-squad games to get ready for the opening Test expected to be played at Old Trafford from August 5. The three-Test series will be followed by an equal number of Twenty20 Internationals. —with inputs from agencies