WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Not being allowed to train in their managed isolation in Christchurch has affected Pakistan’s preparation for the series against New Zealand, head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said on Sunday.
Eight members of the 53-strong Pakistan squad have tested positive for coronavirus since their arrival, prompting the New Zealand health ministry to revoke the tourists’ training exemption on Friday.
“Top professional athletes require a certain environment to prepare so that they can perform at the minimum expected levels…” Misbah said in a statement after naming an 18-member squad for the three-match Twenty20 series set to begin in Auckland on Dec. 18.
“While we completely respect and understand the New Zealand government laws … there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically…”
Misbah, however, had no doubts that the tourists, currently undergoing a 14-day isolation period, would be ready to challenge New Zealand who thumped West Indies inside four days in a Hamilton test on Sunday.
“…when we will leave the isolation facility in the next day or two, we will try to put all this behind us and focus on the challenge of facing New Zealand in both the formats,” said the former Pakistan captain.
Former captain and stumper Sarfaraz Ahmed returned to the Twenty20 squad, along with all-rounder Hussain Talat in the only changes from the side that defeated Zimbabwe 3-0 last month.
“For the T20Is, we have retained the squad that has been playing together for some time,” Misbah said.
“The squad comprises young, talented and high-performing players, who are determined and eager to make names for themselves and further cement their places in the side.”
The teams will also play a two-test series beginning at Mount Maunganui from Dec. 26.
(Corrects T20 series start date in para 3 to Dec. 18, not Saturday)
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez