KARACHI: The HBL Pakistan Super League 6 was thrown into turmoil on Monday when overseas player Fawad Ahmed repo­rted a positive Covid-19 test, which on Monday that forced the organisers to postpone the scheduled fixture bet­ween Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators until Tuesday.

Initially the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the game would be held two hours behind schedule at 9:00pm instead of 7:00pm.

A PCB media statement said: “The Event Technical Committee of the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 has decided to reschedule Quetta Gladiators-Islamabad United match for Tuesday, starting at 7:00pm … the decision has been made despite both the sides returning negative tests on Monday afternoon after Fawad Ahmed of Islamabad United’s test result came back positive earlier in the day. Fawad was put in isolation late on Saturday night. He will re-enter the bio-secure bubble after two negative tests.

“The decision to reschedule the match has been made after a careful consideration, aimed at allowing players sufficient time to relax, refocus and regroup following the testing and in the best interest of the competition.

“While all squad members of Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United have tested negative, players and player support personnel of the four remaining sides and the match officials will undergo rapid tests on Monday evening,” the PCB further said.

A senior board official confirmed that all six teams — including Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans — will be undergoing PCR tests as would the match officials, family members and related people who are all part of the bio-secure bubble, after every four days from now onwards.

Moreover, the PCB has requested that PR reports of Islamabad and Quetta squads should be made available before they leave for the National Stadium late on Tuesday afternoon for the rescheduled fixture.

This is the second incident to mar the ongoing tournament and second case of a player being found with a positive test, from the Lahore Qalandars squad (reportedly local cricketer Mohammad Faizan) and was placed in a 10-day isolation. And then on Feb 21, Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz and head coach Darren Sammy breached the Covid-related protocols by meeting an individual outside the team’s bio-secure bubble.

That breach had committed just three days after the PCB had briefed all players, backroom staff and match officials to strictly abide by all Covid-19 protocols, but yet both Peshawar Zalmi squad members not only failed to complete the mandatory three-day quarantine but Wahab was allowed to play after returning two negative test following the breach and Sammy to sit in the dugout during their team’s opening match against Lahore Qalandars the same evening.

Former Australia international Fawad — who had previously played for Quetta Gladiators in 2019 and 2020 as well as in other leagues — played on Saturday when Islamabad lost to Peshawar by six wickets with the 39-year-old Pakistan-born spinner taking 1-40.

Last March, England batsman Alex Hales — who is playing for Islamabad United went into self-isolation at home after developing Covid-19 symptoms after returning from the Pakistan Super League.

Meanwhile, the tickets for Monday’s match will be valid on Tuesday, while the unused tickets can be refunded, the PCB said.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021

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