The Pakistan team is not yet allowed to do group training and are serving their quarantine period in New Zealand. The Health Ministry of New Zealand stated on Tuesday that there might be three more Pakistani members who could have contracted the COVID-19 virus after 7 already confirmed cases. The team will not be allowed to train until the medical officer deems it safe.
On November 28, a 7th member of the Pakistan squad had tested positive for coronavirus as confirmed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. Earlier the Pakistani contingent had been given a ‘final warning’ from the New Zealand government as several players were found breaching the covid protocols. Another breach of the rules could mean that the team could be sent back home.
In an official statement, New Zealand’s Health Ministry said, “The team is not allowed to train until the Canterbury DHB medical officer of health determines they are satisfied that any training activities are unlikely to transmit COVID-19.”
The report also added that 42 out of 46 tests have returned negative while three are under investigation, and one result is pending.
“Day 6 swabs were taken yesterday from the 46 members of the Pakistan cricket squad in Christchurch who to date have returned negative test results for COVID-19. Of those, 42 have subsequently returned a further negative test result. Three are under investigation to determine whether they are historical cases, and one test result is pending,” the statement added.
Babar Azam appointed as Pakistan’s Test captain
Ahead of the tour of New Zealand, Babar Azam was announced as the Test captain of the team replacing Azhar Ali. Azhar has captained Pakistan in 9 Test matches- winning 2 against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and losing 4 versus New Zealand, Australia, and England.
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 New Zealand.
Pakistan will tour to New Zealand for 3 T20Is starting 18th December followed by a 2-match Test series. Later in the year, the men in green will travel to England before hosting the same team for a 2 T20Is ahead of the T20 World Cup in India.
Babar is in phenomenal form in the past couple of years. Apart from being the number 2 batsman in ICC T20I rankings, he averages 68 in Test cricket in the last two years. The right-hander has scored four hundreds combined in his last four series- including a 104 and a 97 in Australia.