Dale Steyn, Colin Munro, Dawid Malan and Luke Ronchi have joined the growing list of players who have opted out of the HBL Pakistan Super League due to the COVID-19 scare.
The absence of these four players heavily depletes the Islamabad United squad with the team fighting for a spot in the semi-finals. A member of the coaching staff, trainer Corey Rutgers, will also be accompanying the group of players leaving the country amidst coronavirus fears. The PCB has stated that it will "facilitate their safe return".
This development comes soon after the PCB decided the remaining matches of the ongoing competition would be played behind closed doors.
Earlier today, a total of 10 players belonging to various franchises declared their unavailability for the rest of the tournament. The 10 overseas cricketers and a person from the Zalmi coaching staff chose to return home to avoid a potential situation where flight cancellations could leave them stranded.
United clash against Karachi Kings on Saturday at the National Stadium with the teams allowed to bring in the players' replacements following the Event Technical Committee's approval.
"Given the unprecedented situation, PCB has decided that teams will be allowed to bring in local players as replacements for foreign players. Going forward teams may also play up to 4 foreign players, with no bar on the minimum number," the event organizers had announced on Twitter.
Islamabad will have to completely alter their opening combination as Munro and Ronchi formed a formidable duo upfront over the course of this season.
Colin Ingram and Phil Salt are the only two foreign recruits, who remain available for selection for United.