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Covid regulations in NZ ‘mentally affecting’ Pakistan squad, says coach Misbah-ul-Haq

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Pakistan cricketers complained Monday of being affected “mentally and physically” by New Zealand’s strict Covid-19 protocols which have kept the players holed up in their quarantine hotel for nearly two weeks.

Since the 53-man squad of players and officials arrived last month, eight have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing New Zealand health authorities to withdraw permission for the team to train in isolation.

 

Early in their stay, several team members were caught mingling together at their four-star quarantine hotel in Christchurch in breach of the managed isolation rules.

“Top professional athletes require a certain environment to prepare so that they can perform at the minimum expected levels every time they represent their countries,” Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq said in a statement.

He said Pakistan “respect and understand” the health and safety regulations imposed by New Zealand, but “there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically prior to an international series.”

All overseas arrivals to New Zealand must spend two weeks in quarantine, with sports teams which return negative tests for Covid after three days granted permission to train together in isolation.

Last Friday, 10 days after the Pakistan team arrived, New Zealand health officials said “ongoing concerns” about the risk of further infections meant their training ban could not be lifted.

“I want to compliment my players and the management team for their patience, sacrifices, and the hardships they have endured to ensure they not only lead the safe resumption of international cricket during the Covid-19 pandemic … but also try to give their best every time they step on the field,” Misbah said.

He was hopeful the team would still be allowed to move out of isolation this week to focus on preparations for their first Twenty20 match against New Zealand on December 18.