Not being allowed to train in their managed isolation in Christchurch has affected Pakistan’s preparation for the series against New Zealand, head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said on Sunday.
“Top professional athletes require a certain environment to prepare so that they can perform at the minimum expected levels,” Misbah said in a statement after naming an 18-member squad for the three-match Twenty20 series set to begin in Auckland on Saturday.
“While we completely respect and understand the New Zealand government laws ... there is no denying the fact that the implementation of certain regulations has affected our athletes, both mentally and physically”.
Misbah, however, had no doubts that the tourists, currently undergoing a 14-day isolation period, would be ready to challenge New Zealand who thumped West Indies inside four days in a Hamilton test on Sunday.
“When we will leave the isolation facility in the next day or two, we will try to put all this behind us and focus on the challenge of facing New Zealand in both the formats,” said the former Pakistan captain.
Former captain and stumper Sarfaraz Ahmed returned to the Twenty20 squad, along with all-rounder Hussain Talat in the only changes from the side that defeated Zimbabwe 3-0 last month.
“For the T20Is, we have retained the squad that has been playing together for some time,” Misbah said.
“The squad comprises young, talented and high-performing players, who are determined and eager to make names for themselves and further cement their places in the side.”
The teams will also play a two-Test series beginning at Mount Maunganui from Dec 26.
Criticism and anger
The current situation of the players has generated criticism for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) within the country.
Former chairman Zaka Ashraf has blasted the current PCB setup for its gross mismanagement which has resulted in the chaotic and troubled situation with the Pakistan team in New Zealand after so many of its players have tested Covid-19 positive there.
“Are these highly paid officials of the PCB there to create such kind of embarrassment for the Pakistani players due to their unprofessional and irresponsible way of working?” he asked. “The situation is causing no embarrassment for hosts New Zealand but for Pakistan and PCB for its gross mismanagement,” he added.
He said all the players and officials should have been tested again after opener Fakhar Zaman was separated from the squad due to fever at the eleventh hour of departure. “Though the PCB has the claim that Fakhar Zaman was separated from the squad due to fever, a fresh Covid-19 test of the entire squad should have been done, even at the cost of delaying the departure of the team to Auckland,” he contended.