PCB conducts COVID-19 tests of five reserve players
Five reserve players and a backup player support personnel have undergone tests for coronavirus, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Thursday.
Four of the five players – Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Mohammad Nawaz and Musa Khan – were earlier named as reserve players while Rohail Nazir has been added as a backup wicketkeeper after Mohammad Rizwan tested positive for COVID-19.
Imran and Rohail are the two uncapped players among the five reserves with the latter captaining his team in the 2020 Under-19 World Cup.
Rizwan's absence in the side offers a chance for former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to stage a comeback to Pakistan's Test team following his omission from all formats last year.
Sarfaraz is a part of the group of 18 players and 11 members of the backroom staff who returned negative results in the first round of testing. All of these individuals have been retested today while the 10 players and one player support personnel who have been declared COVID-19 positive will undergo tests on Friday.
The outcomes of the second round of tests will be revealed by the PCB on Saturday as the board has declined to further comment on the matter.
Pakistan was originally supposed to depart for the England tour on June 28 alongside its extended 29-man squad. However, the alarming number of positive coronavirus tests has disrupted these plans.
PCB CEO Wasim Khan has thus suggested that the Test squad, under the leadership of Azhar Ali, will first travel to England as per schedule whereas the white-ball specialists will join the team after completing their process of recovery.
A clearer picture of the total number of infectees will surface once the results of the second round are revealed, considering the case of Mohammad Hafeez. The veteran all-rounder tested negative for the virus at a private lab in Lahore despite being announced positive by the PCB on Tuesday.