QUEENSTOWN [New Zealand]: Pakistan squad have cleared their final COVID-19 test and are all set to move out of the managed isolation and hit the ground after getting approval from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. “This is to advise the Pakistan squad’s fifth and final day 12, COVID-19 tests have all been returned as negative. As a consequence, and pending final Ministry of Health approval, the squad will leave managed isolation tomorrow and fly to Queenstown, where they will train ahead of the T20 and Test series against the BLACKCAPS,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.
The Pakistan cricket squad has now been allowed to leave managed isolation to begin its preparation for Twenty20 and Test series against New Zealand. All members of the squad tested negative on the 12th day of their 14-day stay in isolation and were allowed to travel to the South Island resort of Queenstown, where they can now train as a group.
The team’s exemption to train in smaller groups after the third day in isolation was revoked by New Zealand health authorities when players breached protocols by mingling in corridors and sharing food. Six members of the 53-strong squad tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival and two more subsequently returned positive tests and were moved to the quarantine wing of their hotel.
Earlier, the eight-members of Pakistan’s squad have tested positive for COVID-19 in New Zealand, and as a result, the Health Ministry of New Zealand had not allowed the visiting squad to train. However, after the latest round of testing and no new case in the contingent, Pakistan will be allowed to train in Queenstown ahead of the shortest format series.
“The member of the Pakistan squad who tested positive on Day 6 will remain in managed isolation until departing, negative tests permitting. Additionally, the member of the squad who was taken into quarantine in Auckland after arriving from Dubai feeling unwell but subsequently testing negative, has also been cleared to leave the facility,” the statement added.
On Sunday, Pakistan head coach, Misbah-ul-Haq said that not being able to train in New Zealand ahead of their series against the Kiwis has affected the players of his side.
“Top professional athletes require a certain environment to prepare so that they can perform at the minimum expected levels every time they represent their countries. While we completely respect and understand the New Zealand Government Laws, which have been put in place for the health and safety of their public, there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically prior to an international series,” Misbah had said in an official PCB release.
However, the Pakistan coach is hopeful that his side will be allowed to train in the coming few days.
“Nonetheless, when we will leave the isolation facility in the next day or two, we will try to put all this behind us and focus on the challenge of facing New Zealand in both the formats. New Zealand are a formidable side in their conditions and their recent performances against the West Indies confirm why they are ranked second in Tests and just behind us in T20Is in the sixth position,” he added.
New Zealand and Pakistan are slated to lock horns in three T20Is and two Tests.
Pakistan squad for T20Is: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, and Wahab Riaz.
Pakistan are slated to play three T20Is on December 18, 20, and 22, and the ICC World Test Championship fixtures will be held in Mount Maunganui and Christchurch on December 26-30 and January 3-7, respectively.
Following the conclusion of the T20I series, Imad Wasim will depart for Australia on December 23 to play in Australia’s Big Bash League while Mohammad Hafeez will leave for Pakistan on December 24.