Rawalpindi: The fate of the opening day match of the First Test between Pakistan and England still hangs in the balance as the tourists await the fitness of their key players before deciding whether to start the match.
About eight English cricketers and six team officials have contracted an undisclosed virus that led to the team being confined to the hotel on Wednesday.
Key player Jack Leach (who is already suffering from Crohn’s disease) and team captain Ben Stokes are also among the players who contracted the viral infection.
It is believed that the team contracted the bug from the British High Commission, where they were received on Monday evening.
After the unexpected development, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to delay the start of the first Test till Friday.
The two boards on Wednesday discussed the outbreak of viral infection at the England men’s Test team camp and agreed to defer the decision on the start of the match until 0730 PST on Thursday (today), the office said in a statement.
The two boards also agreed that if the England players did not recover well enough to take the field on Thursday morning, the Test would begin on Friday (tomorrow) and it would be a five-day match. In this scenario, the schedule for the Second Test in Multan and the Third Test in Karachi will remain unaffected.
“How do you deal with England,” Babar Yousef advises
Pakistan captain Babar Azam on Wednesday sought guidance from batting coach Muhammad Yousuf on how to identify high-flying England in the three-match series that begins with the inaugural Test here at the Bindi Stadium.
In response to a question from “The News” during the media interaction, Babar said that Youssef was outstanding during the 2005-2006 series against England. Yusuf’s sensational 223 during the last Test in Lahore during the 2005 series turned out to be a deciding factor, and Pakistan won by an innings.
“We certainly have a batting legend managing the team who knows very well how to play against the current English bowlers. We would certainly like to take a leaf from his book when it comes to taking on the English bowlers and scoring runs. His feat for Pakistan especially in that particular series is something to remember,” Babar said.
Yusuf was hailed as one of the best batsmen Pakistan has produced.
“We are fortunate to have him on our side. Every batsman who plays in the series will take full advantage of having him in the dressing room.”
Babar hopes to play against the entire England team. “We pray for the early recovery of English cricketers so that they can field their best XI for the first Test.”