The New Zealand Health Ministry has denied the Pakistani players to train together as an eighth undisclosed member of the squad has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after landing in the country.
The visiting team has been restricted to leave their hotel to train in groups even after completing their isolation period in Christchurch. The team will not be allowed to train until the medical officer deems it safe.
The New Zealand Health Ministry said in a statement, “Following careful consideration, the Director-General of Health has today confirmed that he will not be granting the exemption which would allow the Pakistan men’s cricket team to leave their hotel to train in groups while completing their time in managed isolation in Christchurch.”
Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield feels that there is a risk of cross-infection in the squad and hence they are not allowed to mingle together.
“I have very carefully considered this situation. At this time, I continue to have ongoing concerns about the risk of cross-infection within the squad,” Bloomfield explained.
Pakistan team found breaching Covid-19 protocols
On November 28, a seventh member of the Pakistan squad had tested positive for coronavirus. On 2nd December, an eighth member of the squad was found to have contracted the virus, and two other members were being investigated, as confirmed by the health authorities.
Earlier the Pakistani contingent had been given a ‘final warning’ from the New Zealand government. Several players were found flouting the covid protocols asserted by the government. The players were seen without masks, sharing food, and not following the social distancing norms. Another breach of the rules could mean that the team might be sent back home.
Ahead of the tour, Babar Azam was announced as the Test captain of the team replacing Azhar Ali. Babar was already the limited-overs skipper since last year when he replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed after Pakistan’s exit from the league stage in the World Cup.
His first assignment as an all-format leader would be to take on Black Caps in their own backyard. The three-match T20I series commences on 18th December, followed by two-Test matches.