Monday night’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) match between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators has been postponed to tomorrow after legspinner Fawad Ahmed returned a positive test for Covid-19.
Ahmed had shown symptoms two days ago and had been immediately isolated, his franchise Islamabad United said.
Other members of Islamabad United have returned negative tests, as have all members from the Quetta Gladiators playing contingent. The start of the game, which was scheduled for 7.00 pm local time, was originally put off by two hours before the game was officially moved to Tuesday. A spokesperson of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told ESPNcricinfo that members of every franchise are currently being tested for Covid-19.
This is the PSL’s second major Covid-related incident and the second case of a player testing positive for the virus. On February 21, Peshawar Zalmi’s captain Wahab Riaz, and coach, Daren Sammy, had been forced into a three-day quarantine after meeting a person outside the team’s biosecure bubble.
The breach had come three days after the PCB had briefed players, support staff, and match officials to “religiously follow” all Covid-19 protocols. However, Riaz did not complete the mandatory three-day quarantine period, with Zalmi insisting their captain play the opening game, given he had returned two negative tests following the breach. Each PSL franchise has its own Covid compliance officer, who is responsible for testing, implementation of protocols, sanitization, and players’ temperature checks. The whole process is bring regulated by the event doctor.
That incident highlighted what had been a concern for the PSL right from the outset. Despite extensive safety protocols set out to minimize the chances of a positive Covid-19 case disrupting the schedule, there has been widespread concern around enforcement and observation of those protocols.
A few days ago, a person interviewed during the game between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi spoke of how he had “tried to high-five” as many players as possible, while TV cameras have picked up families sitting alongside players in the stands on occasion.
The other player to test positive, an unnamed cricketer from Lahore Qalandars, had gone into 10-day isolation on the same day and will need to return two negative tests and clear a fitness assessment before he can be re-integrated with the squad. This is likely to be the case with Ahmed as well. —Agencies