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Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
A former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman has taken aim at the current setup for its “gross mismanagement” after six players tested positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand.
In a statement issued to Pakistan news publication Dawn, Zaka Ashraf said the PCB should have arranged chartered flights for the cricketers in order to minimise contact with travellers who may have been carrying the virus.
Six Pakistan players have tested positive since arriving in New Zealand last month. This has resulted in the entire 54-member squad and support staff forced into managed isolation and denied permission to train in groups.
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Soon after arriving, several team members breached managed isolation rules. They were seen on video surveillance footage mingling, sharing food and chatting among themselves.
“Instead of sending the contingent on direct flights from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Auckland, the PCB selected a route in which the squad stayed at different airports for hours before reaching New Zealand,” Ashraf told Dawn.
A close eye is being kept on the touring Pakistan cricket team after six of them tested positive for Covid-19.
“A chartered flight could have been another good solution to avoid any untoward situation in travelling of the squad. I don’t think a chartered flight would have been too expensive for the PCB which is paying millions of rupees salaries to its officials.
“Are these highly paid officials of the PCB there to create such kind of embarrassment for the Pakistani players due to their unprofessional and irresponsible way of working? The situation is causing no embarrassment for hosts New Zealand but for Pakistan and PCB for its gross mismanagement.”
Ashraf’s comments come after Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq claimed the stringent Covid-19 protocols in New Zealand have affected his team’s preparations for this month’s Twenty20 series against the Black Caps.
“I want to compliment my players and the management team for their patience, sacrifices and the hardships they have endured to ensure they not only lead the safe resumption of international cricket during the Covid-19 pandemic since the series in England but also try to give their best every time they step on the field,” Misbah said in a media statement, released by the PCB.
“Top professional athletes require a certain environment to prepare so that they can perform at the minimum expected levels every time they represent their countries.”
Misbah said that the Pakistan contingent respects and understands the New Zealand government’s procedures, but “there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically prior to an international series.”
However, Misbah said that he’s hopeful the team will move out of isolation “in the next day or two” and will focus on the challenge of facing New Zealand in the upcoming Twenty20 and test series.
The Twenty20 series begins in Auckland on December 18 and Pakistan has made two changes in its 18-member squad that whitewashed Zimbabwe 3-0 at Rawalpindi last month, bringing in all-rounder Talat Hussain and former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed in place of Zafar Gohar and Rohail Nazir.
Twenty20 squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir and Wahab Riaz.
– AP, Stuff