New Zealand tour: Pakistan cricket team tests negative for coronavirus

LAHORE: The national cricket team players have tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of the New Zealand tour as the green shirts take on the Kiwis from 18 December 2020.

According to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the COVID-19 tests of all Pakistan men’s cricket team players and support staff were conducted and turned out negative.

The squad leaves for New Zealand on the morning of November 23, PCB said. Pakistan had announced a 35-player squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.

The players, along with 20-member player support personnel, will depart for Lincoln on 23rd November where they will spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

The national team will play three T20Is on 18th, 20th and 22nd December, while Test matches will be held in Mount Maunganui on 26-30th December and Christchurch on 3-7th January.

The players not involved in international matches against New Zealand will be available for selection for the Pakistan Shaheens matches against New Zealand A.

Babar Azam has been confirmed Pakistan captain in all formats. His vice-captain in Tests will be Mohammad Rizwan, while Shadab will be the vice-captain in T20 matches.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said the unprecedented COVID-19 times provide a unique opportunity to players to represent the squad against quality opposition such as New Zealand, gain valuable experience, exposure and further improve their skills.

He said the matches in New Zealand are critical to improve T20 rankings and also gain valuable points in the ICC World Test Championship.

He congratulated uncapped Amad Butt, Danish Aziz, Imran Butt and Rohail Nazir who have impressed the selectors with their form, technique, temperament and ability to secure places.

There are three major omissions from the side that toured England. Asad Shafiq has been left out due to lack of form after he managed 510 runs in his last 15 innings, including a total of 67 runs in England.

Misbah said Asad is an experienced batsman and will need to work harder on his game in the domestic first-class matches reclaim his form and be back in contention for the upcoming Tests against South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir are not part of the ODI and T20 matches. Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz have been retained on the basis of their outstanding and consistent performances.

Squad

Openers (six): Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood and Zeeshan Malik.

Middle-order batsmen (11): Babar Azam (captain), Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Butt, Khushdil Shah and Mohammad Hafeez.

Wicketkeepers (three): Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, Tests), Rohail Nazir and Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Spinners (five): Imad Wasim Shadab Khan (vice-captain, T20Is), Usman Qadir Yasir Shah, and Zafar Gohar.

Fast bowlers (10): Amad Butt, Faheem Ashraf , Haris Rauf, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz.

Schedule – Pakistan v New Zealand

 18 Dec – 1st T20I, Eden Park, Auckland (1200 PST)
20 Dec – 2nd T20I, Seddon Park, Hamilton (1200 PST)
22 Dec – 3rd T20I, McLean Park, Napier (1200 PST)
26-30 Dec – 1st Test, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui (0400 PST)
3-7 Jan – 2nd Test, Hagley Oval, Christchurch (0400 PST)