Seven more Pakistan cricketers, including Muhammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz, selected for the tour of England have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total to 10, the PCB revealed on Tuesday (June 23).
The seven who tested positive on Tuesday are Kashif Bhatti, Muhammad Hasnain, Fakhar Zaman, Muhammad Rizwan, Imran Khan, Mohammed Hafeez and Wahab Riaz.
Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and rookie Haider Ali on Monday tested positive for COVID-19, raising fresh questions over players safety ahead of the teams departure to England.
“It is not a great situation to be in and what it shows is these are 10 fit and young athletes…if it can happen to players it can happen to anyone,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) CEO, Wasim Khan told a media conference.
He said a support staff member, masseur Malang Ali, had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Khan said that the players and officials would now assemble in Lahore and another round of tests would be carried out on June 25 and a revised squad would be announced the next day.
The squad has to leave on June 28 for the series scheduled to be held next month, he said.
“It is a matter of concern but we shouldn’t panic at this time as we have time on our hands,” Khan said, adding that the players and officials would be retested on reaching England.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed three players Haider Ali, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan have tested positive for Covid-19,” said the PCB in a statement on Monday.
“The players had shown no symptoms until they were tested in Rawalpindi on Sunday ahead of the Pakistan men’s national cricket teams tour to England. The PCB medical panel is in contact with the three who have been advised to immediately go into self-isolation,” the statement said further.
Leg-spinner Shadab is the only established member of the team out of the three. Rauf has played only two T20 Internationals while highly-rated batsman Ali had received his maiden call-up for the England tour comprising three Tests and as many T20s.
All the squad members are being tested for coronavirus ahead of the teams departure on June 28.
“Imad Wasim and Usman Shinwari, also screened in Rawalpindi, have tested negative and, as such, will travel to Lahore on 24 June. The other players and team officials, barring Cliffe Deacon, Shoaib Malik and Waqar Younis, underwent tests at their respective centres in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar on Monday. Their results are expected at some stage on Tuesday, which will also be announced by the PCB through its usual channels. Until then, the PCB will not make any further comment,” the PCB added.
Besides a 29-member squad, the PCB has also named four reserves for the England tour — Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz.
Also on Monday, PCB doctor Sohail Saleem said that the England tour in the midst of the pandemic is a “big risk” but a necessary one.
Earlier this month, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had tested positive for the deadly virus.
Former Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar was also tested positive for the virus but he has recovered.
Former Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza had tested COVID-19 positive last week alongside Nazmul Islam and Nafees Iqbal.
The West Indies tour of England beginning next month marks the resumption of international cricket, followed by the Pakistan series. Both series will be played in a bio-secure environment.
(With inputs from agencies)