Six Pakistan cricketers cleared of COVID-19

Pakistan's bowler Shadab Khan (2L) celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Bangladesh's batsman Liton Kumar Das (unseen) during the second T20 international cricket match of a three-match series between Pakistan and Bangladesh, at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Six Pakistan cricketers cleared of COVID-19

  • Cricket board said that all the six players were retested on Monday, following a first negative test last Friday
  • Board will now make arrangements to fly out these six cricketers to England

ISLAMABAD: Six Pakistan cricketers are eligible to join the team in England after their second COVID-19 test came out negative after first testing positive, the Pakistan Cricket Board said on Tuesday.
Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, legspinner Shadab Khan, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan and fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hasnain were tested negative for COVID-19 for the second time in three days.
The PCB said that all the six players were retested on Monday, following a first negative test last Friday. The cricket board will now make arrangements to fly out these six cricketers to England and the PCB said players’ “departure details will be shared in due course.”
Pakistan’s 20-member squad left for England on Sunday to play three test matches and three Twenty20s in August and September. The team is in Worcestershire where it will complete a 14-day isolation period on July 13.


Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

Updated 8 min 59 sec ago

Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

  • Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment

SPIELBERG, South Africa: Max Verstappen will seek a hat trick of home wins for Red Bull and an early lead in the drivers championship at this weekend’s delayed and somewhat surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

For everyone involved, the race will be an unprecedented experience — the calendar is unknown beyond the first eight races in Europe in 10 weeks, all to be run behind closed doors and severe limitations introduced with a new paddock protocol forbidding meetings.

As racing returns, the COVID-19 virus remains in circulation, which requires all participants to be tested before travel to Austria on private chartered jets, ongoing tests, the separation of teams and car crews into “bubbles” and controlled hotels.

Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment, there will be no sponsors, no guests and only a limited number of accredited broadcast and written news media.

Journalists, limited to a dozen instead of 300 or more, have to pass a test within 72 hours in advance of arrival and will not be allowed to leave the media center.

All interviews and news conferences will take place by video.

The teams will be kept isolated, based in tents with awnings instead of their usual grand motorhomes — and there is expected to be a synchronized taking the knee by the drivers on the grid, to support Black Lives Matter, ahead of Sunday’s race.

Afterwards, there will be no podium ceremony.

When the race begins, it will end the longest gap between races in the sport since 1962, but with two successive races in Austria and then one in Hungary, the pressure will be immediate and intense.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: “There’s been a long drought. We all do this because we love it. We’ve missed it, so we can’t wait to start.”

“It’s going to be exciting and intense. The races come thick and fast.”

Dutch driver Verstappen, who bullied his way past Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc to triumph in front of a mass of his “orange army” of fans last year, says he is unfazed by high expectations or the absence of spectators at the Red Bull Ring, a remote and compact circuit in the Styrian Alps.

“I am not thinking about a hat trick,” he said.

“The most important thing for me is to have a competitive car and to perform at my best.

“I never consider myself as a favorite because, actually, when you look at the track, it’s not even our best one, but last year it was very warm and we were good at keeping the engine cool.

“So I don’t expect an easy win. I think Mercedes will be very strong again and they are the ones to beat.”

Verstappen, who has kept a low profile during the lockdown, delivered three wins and eight podiums last year as Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth title with Mercedes, who this year seek an unprecedented seventh constructors’ and drivers’ double in succession.

Verstappen and teammate Alex Albon will have an upgraded Honda engine package, developed since the coronavirus lockdown ended, to boost them at the contest in the Styrian Alps where the 800-meter altitude can affect engine performance.

Mercedes will also have an updated package while Ferrari, struggling to match them in pre-season testing, announced Tuesday that they are updating their cars for the third race in Hungary.

Hamilton this year bids for a record-equalling seventh drivers title as he campaigns passionately for greater diversity, and against racism, in the sport.

“We are preparing the best way we can for what is going to be the most difficult season that F1 and all of us have experienced,” he said in a video from the team, which — at his prompting — is running black livery this year to support equality and diversity.