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Pakistan tour of England: A timeline of the challenges posed by Covid-19
Pakistan tour of England

Pakistan tour of England: A timeline of the challenges posed by Covid-19

Pakistan's preparations for the tour of England have been beset by more than one-third of the original 29-man squad testing positive for the coronavirus. Although the itinerary for the scheduled three Tests and three T20Is remains unaffected, the virus concerns have certainly deprived Pakistan of useful resources for the two-month trip amidst the pandemic.

With the touring party now set for departure to England on June 28, we take a look at the major occurrences in the past week that have disturbed the PCB's plans.

22 June 2020: Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf test positive for coronavirus

The first blow arrived when Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf tested positive for coronavirus in Rawalpindi. Imad Wasim and Usman Shinwari, also screened in the same city, tested negative for the virus.

The three players were asymptomatic and immediately asked to quarantine themselves. Shadab was the most experienced member of the trio whereas Haider was likely to make his debut during the tour. Rauf has so far represented in two T20Is against Bangladesh.

23 June 2020: Seven additional Pakistan players test positive for coronavirus

A further seven players tested positive for coronavirus the following day taking the total infections among players to 10. Masseur Malang Ali also contracted the virus with all the individuals exhibiting no symptoms.

Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz were the players to have tested positive. Despite the alarming number of virus cases, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan insisted that the tour would go ahead as planned since only Rizwan's absence had any impact on the upcoming Test series.

“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on 28 June," he said.

"Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practicing immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England."

24 June 2020: Hafeez tests negative for coronavirus a day after being declared positive by PCB

Mohammad Hafeez stirred controversy by announcing he had tested negative for the virus after undergoing a test at a private lab in Lahore.

Hafeez's post on social media came a day after he was declared Covid-19 positive by the PCB. The veteran all-rounder stated he felt the need to get a "second opinion" following his positive test.

Hafeez was later reprimanded by the PCB for making his virus report public instead of contacting the board, bringing their testing process into disrepute.

25 June 2020: PCB conducts COVID-19 tests of five reserve players

The PCB called up five reserves and one back-up player support personnel to conduct tests for coronavirus. Four of the five players - Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Mohammad Nawaz and Musa Khan - were earlier named among the reserves during the squad announcement.

Rohail Nazir, who captained Pakistan in the 2020 Under-19 World Cup, was the new entrant in this short list as he was included as a backup wicketkeeper option following the positive virus test of Mohammad Rizwan.

Additionally, the PCB scheduled retests for both the players who tested positive and the ones who did not have the virus in the first round.

26 June 2020: Pakistan to arrive in England on June 28; Covid-19 positive players not allowed to travel

The ECB potentially spoiled the PCB's aspirations of adding more players to the touring party after making it obvious that "those who are testing positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted to travel with the advance group on Sunday".

This implies the likelihood of only 18 players travelling to England provided their second test also yields a negative result.

Meanwhile, dates for the six fixtures have not been revealed yet as the Pakistan squad will undergo another test once they reach England.