Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - Agen­cies sportsdesk@hin­dus­tan­

KARACHI: Seven more Pak­istan crick­eters tested pos­i­tive for Covid-19 on Tues­day, rais­ing the to­tal to 10 of the squad to tour Eng­land. Pak­istan Cricket Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Wasim Khan re­mained con­fi­dent the tour will go ahead as planned. Pak­istan will leave on Sun­day, as sched­uled, for Eng­land, mi­nus the 10 play­ers and one staff mem­ber who have to self­iso­late at home. None of them are show­ing symp­toms.

An ex­tended squad of 29 play­ers was cho­sen for the three Tests and three T20s, and Khan said it was for­tu­nate that the en­tire Test squad bar­ring Mohd Rizwan tested neg­a­tive. After quar­an­tine, Rizwan should be avail­able for the Test se­ries due to be­gin in Au­gust. “The tour to Eng­land is very much on track and the side will de­part as per sched­ule on June 28,” Khan said on a video call.

The seven in­fected play­ers were fast bowlers Wa­hab Riaz, Mohd Has­nain and Im­ran Khan, wick­et­keeper Mohd Rizwan, opener Fakhar Za­man, all­rounder Mohd Hafeez, and spin­ner Kashif Bhatti. Also tested pos­i­tive was a staff mem­ber, masseur Malang Ali. From the first batch of test­ing, play­ers Haider Ali, Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf tested pos­i­tive.

Pak­istan had four re­serve play­ers and Khan said coach Mis­bah-ul-Haq will get them tested also this week. As soon as the 10 crick­eters and one staff mem­ber test neg­a­tive, they will be flown to Eng­land on a com­mer­cial air­line, Khan said.

The rest will gather in Lahore on Thurs­day and will un­dergo a sec­ond round of test­ing on Fri­day. Those who re­main neg­a­tive will leave for Manch­ester on a char­tered flight on Sun­day. Within 24 hours of ar­riv­ing in Eng­land, they will be tested by the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board med­i­cal panel.

The Pak­istan squad will un­dergo test­ing at least five times be­fore the first Test in early Au­gust.

The lat­est pos­i­tive tests shouldn’t stop the tour, Eng­land di­rec­tor of cricket Ashley Giles said on Tues­day. Giles, speak­ing be­fore the seven new pos­i­tives, said the sit­u­a­tion was a “con­cern” but the tour was not cur­rently in doubt. “We are far enough away from the start of the Test se­ries to worry about that too much at the mo­ment,” Giles said on a video call. “This is the dif­fer­ence with in­ter­na­tional sport. We need to get our op­po­si­tion in (the) coun­try. Any­thing that puts that at risk or in dan­ger is clearly a prob­lem.”

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