Pakistan squad in UK test negative for virus
July 01 2020 12:00 AM
Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq


All 20 players and 11 management personnel in the Pakistan touring party have tested negative for coronavirus since arriving in Britain, the England and Wales Cricket Board said yesterday.
 The ECB added that England’s latest round of tests, for their training group and management conducted on Monday had also yielded a complete set of negative results.
 England players and staff have now had three Covid-19 tests.
 The ECB’s announcement followed a statement from Pakistan that six more players had been cleared to join the tour after recording two successive negative Covid-19 tests.
 But the other four of the 10 players who originally tested positive for the virus last week will have to stay in Pakistan for now after failing further tests. 
 Mohamed Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Mohamed Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Mohamed Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman are now eligible to travel to England and join the original squad that left on Sunday, the Pakistan Cricket Board said.
 “All the six players were re-tested on Monday, following their first negative test on June 26,” the PCB confirmed.
 However, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf tested positive for a second time. 
 They will not be allowed to travel to England until they have recorded two consecutive negative tests.
 Pakistan will play three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals against England starting in August, with the exact dates still to be confirmed. 
 The Pakistan squad arrived in England late Sunday and have started a 14-day mandatory quarantine period before intra-squad practice games.
 A 30-strong England squad and support staff are currently in a bio-secure training camp at the Ageas Bowl ahead of next week’s opening Test against the West Indies.
 This first fixture in the three-match series will mark the return of major international cricket from lockdown.
 Meanwhile, coach Misbah-ul-Haq has left no stone unturned in his preparations but Pakistan still look decidedly undercooked for their three-Test series against England in August-September. 
Skipper Azhar Ali and his squad will discover how much cricket has changed in the six months since their last test, with Covid-19 curbs putting a stop to the use of saliva to shine the ball and forcing games to be played without fans. The bulk of the squad arrived on Sunday after clearing a battery of tests and the matches will be staged in a bio-secure bubble, which will undoubtedly take some time to get used to. 
England, however, should be well-versed in cricket’s ‘new normal’ by the time they face Pakistan, with their home series against West Indies next month to be played in the same kind of bio-secure environment.
 Pakistan left England with their heads held high after their last two tours, drawing both, most recently under Misbah in 2018.
 But England have not lost a home series since 2014 and Pakistan’s callow pace attack looks ill-equipped to end that streak.
 Of their frontline quicks, only Mohamed Abbas has played Test matches in England, with the exciting Shaheen Afridi and 17-year-old Naseem Shah having only 12 Test caps between them.
Medium pacer Sohail Khan, who toured England in 2016 but has not played a Test since the Boxing Day match in Australia that year, has been recalled to add his experience.
 “In terms of number of games, of course England have tons of experience in their bowling,” captain Azhar said before leaving for England on Sunday.
 “But we have the skills: (our bowlers) are young and have a lot to offer. They can give trouble to any team in the world. Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly and Zak Crawley are vying for the top three spots in England’s top order and Azhar saw an opportunity. “Looking at their batting, their top order has been fragile for some time since Alastair Cook retired,” he said.
 Pakistan’s bowlers will also be able to call upon the knowledge and experience of coaches Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed, who won a Test series in England in 1996. 
Former captain Younis Khan has also come on board as batting coach for the series and has emphasized the importance of Pakistan’s batsmen posting a first-innings total in excess of 300 runs.

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