After Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Shadab Khan, seven more Pakistan squad cricketers tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of England tour, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed on Tuesday.
New COVID-19 positives include Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, and Wahab Riaz. Malang Ali, the team’s masseur, also tested positive for the widely-spread virus.
According to the PCB, all the players have gone into self-isolation immediately on the directives of the medical team headed by Dr. Sohail Saleem. The players will complete their quarantine period before undergoing another Test in early July. All of them will have to test negative twice in order to join the squad later on in July.
Meanwhile, players and team management, who had tested negative, will be tested once again on June 25. Pakistan team is scheduled to travel to England on June 28 via a chartered plane.
Players who have tested negative are: 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
Support staff who have tested negative: Mansoor Rana (manager), Misbah-ul-Haq (head coach), Shahid Aslam (assistant to head coach), Younis Khan (batting coach), Mushtaq Ahmed (spin bowling 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).
As many as 35 Tests were taken on Sunday and Monday across four centers including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Karachi, and Lahore. Shoaib Malik, Waqar Younis, and Cliff Deacon are yet to be tested.
Wasim Khan’s version on the issue
PCB’s Chief Executive, Wasim Khan, said that there is enough time for players to recover and rejoin the squad in England later in July.
“We will continue to monitor and support them, including conducting antibody tests, and as soon as they test negative twice, they will be flown to join the squad in England,” said Khan while talking to reporters via teleconference.
He revealed that initially a squad of 23 players including four reserved players [Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan, and Mohammad Nawaz], based on their COVID-19 Tests, will travel to England on June 28.
“Seven out of 10 COVID-19 positive players are white-ball specialists which means they can easily join us sometime in July as our T20I series is scheduled in late August. Remaining three players had been selected for Tests but only Rizwan was a regular part of the team and penciled in to play the first Test,” he maintained.
“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,” he concluded.