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'Final warning' for Pakistan cricketers in New Zealand

FILE - In this Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020, file photo, Pakistan players celebrate their win in the third Twenty20 cricket match against England at Old Traf...

FILE - In this Tuesday Sept. 1, 2020, file photo, Pakistan players celebrate their win in the third Twenty20 cricket match against England at Old Traf...

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board has warned players on tour in New Zealand to obey COVID-19 protocols or the whole team risks being sent home.

In a WhatsApp voice note sent to Pakistan players on Thursday, Wasim Khan said he was given a “final warning” by both New Zealand Cricket and its government after six Pakistan players tested positive for the coronavirus on arriving in the country.

“They have told me straightaway that one more breach and they will send the whole team back,” Khan said in the two-minute message, recorded in the Urdu language, adding “it will be embarrassing" if this happens.

Closed-circuit television footage showed some members of the Pakistan squad had contravened protocols on the first day of managed isolation.

“They also said there were three to four breaches of protocols,” Khan said.

“They have zero tolerance and they have given us a final warning. I know it’s difficult times for you and it’s not easy. You have operated in similar conditions (playing) in England ... it’s a matter of the country’s respect and credibility. Please observe 14 days, then you will get freedom in New Zealand to go out in restaurants and roam around, but please adhere to full protocols.”

The Pakistan team’s exemption to practice while in managed isolation will be withheld until an investigation has been completed. All players were tested four times before their departure from Lahore to New Zealand and were negative on each occasion.

New Zealand Cricket said while the positive cases were disappointing, their early discovery showed government protocols around touring teams are working.

“Please guys, I know it’s difficult, it’s very tough, but do stay disciplined and follow through the protocols … they will not compromise on health and safety in New Zealand, so please adhere to it,” Khan told his players.

Pakistan is scheduled to play three Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand, starting on Dec. 18, followed by two test matches.

The six players have been moved from managed isolation into quarantine.

Two of the six cases were described as “historical” and four were new. The Pakistan touring group, including 53 players and officials, was tested after arriving Tuesday. All six positive cases were being moved to the quarantine arm of the isolation facility.

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Updated : 2021-03-06 04:57 GMT+08:00