January 31, 2023

RAWALPINDI: The first Test match between Pakistan and England, scheduled to take place tomorrow (December 1) may see a delay as several English players and officials have fallen sick, Geo News reported Wednesday.

In a big blow to the English cricket team, 14 members of the squad, including eight players, have reportedly been affected by a viral ahead of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

Final meeting to decide the possibility of the first Test match will be held at 7pm today, as per sources.

Match officials and management of both Pakistan and England’s team would be present in the meeting. According to sources, deliberations will be held during the meeting over whether to postpone the match, push it a day ahead or reduce the number of Test matches to four.

England were set to play the first Test in Pakistan tomorrow for the first time in 17 years.

A report published by the BBC said that England skipper Ben Stokes and other team members, including officials, have been affected by the viral.

“The England squad, including captain Ben Stokes, has been affected by a virus on the eve of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi,” the report stated.

“Around 14 members of the travelling party of players and coaches were advised to rest at the hotel on Wednesday. About half of the playing squad of 16 has been hit, with only five taking part in an optional training session.”

According to a brief statement by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), only Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope and Joe Root attended today’s optional training session.

The ECB, however, did not mention the number of people affected by viral illness.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed in an update on Twitter that they are discussing the commencement of the first Test with ECB, confirming that some England players are down with a viral infection.

“The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course,” the PCB statement said.

Meanwhile, Geo News had reported citing sources that both boards are discussing the possibility of delaying the first Test.

Officials, privy to the development, said that a final decision will be taken once the the availability of the players based on the England doctor’s assessment.

After the first match in Rawalpindi, the second Test moves to Multan starting on Friday, December 9, and the final Test of the tour will take place at the National Stadium in Karachi, commencing on Saturday, December 17.

England have already named their team for the first Test, with Lancashire all-rounder Liam Livingstone making his Test debut while Nottinghamshire batter Ben Duckett returns to the side for the first time since 2016 and will open the batting with Zak Crawley.

After the first match in Rawalpindi, the second Test moves to Multan starting on Friday, December 9, and the final Test of the tour will take place at the National Stadium in Karachi, commencing on Saturday, December 17.

England XI for first Test

Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Liam Livingstone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, Jimmy Anderson.

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