Pakistan Tour of New Zealand 2020-21
Pakistan cricket team has gone to New Zealand to participate in two Test matches and three Twenty20 international matches during December and January 2021. The Test matches in this Pakistan tour of New Zealand 2020- 21 will be treated as the part of opening ICC World Test championship.
• Match schedule of New Zealand Vs Pakistan 2020-21
In this Pakistan tour of New Zealand 2020-21 Pakistan has been scheduled to take part in three T20 International matches that will begin on 18th December at Eden Park in Auckland. The second T20 International match is scheduled to be held on 20th December at Seddon Park in Hamilton and the third and final T20 International match is scheduled to be staged at Mclean Park in Napier on 22nd December.
The Test matches of the New Zealand Vs Pakistan 2020-21 series is scheduled to commence on 26th December. The first Test will be held from 26th December to 30th December at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui while the second and final Test match is scheduled to be staged at Hagley Oval in Christchurch from 3rd January to 7th January.
• New Zealand vs Pakistan squads
New Zealand has not yet declared its squad for the T20 International series and the two-Test series against Pakistan. Pakistan however will be taking part in the T20 International matches under the captaincy of Babar Azam. The other players are, Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Usman Qadir, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammed Hasnain, Muhammad Musa, Shaheen Afridi, and Wahab Riaz.
• The Nightmares in Christchurch!
Already in August 2020 New Zealand Cricket Control Board had confirmed the tour would be made. The New Zealand cricket had also been discussing with the government regarding bio-security to prevent the participating teams from the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 29, 2020, New Zealand Cricket Board confirmed the complete schedule of Pakistan's trip to New Zealand.
Still, the 52-member huge contingent of Pakistan team in this Pakistan tour of New Zealand 2020-21 had to win over the severe attack of Corona Virus after they arrived at Christchurch at the end of last month. Six players were found COVID-19 positive initially. The health ministry of New Zealand immediately organized complete isolation for the whole contingent in Christchurch hotel. Still, the COVID-19 positive cases increased when numbers of Pakistani players were seen violating isolation protocol in their hotel and combining with others to talk in between themselves. As its aftermath, the whole team was again sent to two-week quarantine.
• The mystery behind tests in Pakistan!
How did several players in the Pakistan team get infected with COVID-19? All in the 54-member contingent tested negative before they flew for New Zealand. That was around two weeks ago. There were 55 members in the group. But as Fakhar Zaman had symptoms similar to COVID-19 he stayed back in the country but left for New Zealand the very next day after being cleared with negative in the test.
On a surprising note, the New Zealand health ministry found six to seven players positive with COVID-19 immediately after the team arrived in the country. Additionally, four more players and a few more staff traveling with the group were found already being infected with the dreadful virus! Questions have arisen over the Pakistan Cricket Control Board's (PCB) procedure of COVID tests of the New Zealand touring group.
Earlier this year, before Pakistan's tour to England, PCB organized two tests for COVID-19 including an antibody test. The players had to get negative reports of the tests, done twice before traveling to England.
But surprisingly before the New Zealand tour, PCB organized only one test and put the players in the hotel before their departure for only two days. The total squad of 35 players and 20 coaching staff, as well as the officials, was gathered in a Lahore hotel for two days. They were tested for COVID-19 the next day and all reports came negative! According to a few New Zealand newspaper reports, before traveling to New Zealand several players were participating in different domestic tournaments and although PCB had created a bio-secure bubble during these tournaments there must have been breaches by the players and that might have been the reason behind the Pakistan members carrying out COVID-19 symptoms even after reaching New Zealand.
• Freedom at last!
The 52-member contingent has been finally released from managed isolation at Christchurch hotel after their latest tests have resulted negative and all have been asked to leave quarantine. The team members including the other members had to be confined in their respective rooms, following the New Zealand health ministry's strict COVID-19 protocol. None of the players could rain during that phase. The tourists will be traveling to Queenstown to resume their training before their impending first Twenty20 International against the Black Caps in Auckland on 18th December.
• The dejected Pakistani players
Following a two-week complete quarantine at Christchurch hotel, Pakistan players had been suffering from depression. Due to strict instruction from the New Zealand health ministry to follow the quarantine protocol where the players were completely restrained in their respective rooms, some of the players initially breached the protocol and they were seen combining with a few other players out of their rooms and busy in conversing with each other. This incident put the tourists in more awkwardness as the number of COVID-19 affected members of the team increased from six to ten!
Pakistan's coach Misba-ul Haq however has admitted that the players were struggling mentally a lot after being locked up in their respective rooms in the hotel during the two-week complete quarantine. The coach also had an appreciation for his players to keep patience throughout the quarantine phase.
But more importantly, the Pakistan coach seems worried about the lack of training of some players who are expected to start in the opening T20 International match, commencing on 18th December. Misba has expressed anxiety over all-rounder Hussain Talat and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed as they were not able to train for a single day in the two-week quarantine phase.