Batsman Fakhar Zaman has been dropped out of Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour after developing COVID-like symptoms despite testing negative.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed in a release that the 30-year-old left-handed batsman would be left out despite testing negative on Saturday, having developed fever while isolating with the squad in a Lahore hotel.
Pakistan are set to head for New Zealand next week for three T20 Internationals and two Test matches across December and early January. The first T20I starts in Auckland on December 18.
New Zealand has largely handled the coronavirus pandemic well, with just over 2,000 cases and only 25 deaths and will take a strict approach to allowing international arrivals.
The Black Caps will play the West Indies in a Test and T20I series prior to the Pakistan matches. The West Indies touring party were already sanctioned for breaching the COVID-19 protocols by mingling during their quarantine.
Despite that, Fakhar’s omission comes following average form for the national team, managing to score more than 25 runs in an innings only once in the past two years.
It’s understood that the PCB will not replace Fakhar, nor will he be permitted to link up with the squad at a later date due to New Zealand’s strict rules.
Despite that, domestically he’s been excellent, finishing as the second top scorer in the recently concluded Pakistani Super League where Fakhar’s Lahore Qalandars were runners-up.
“Fakhar’s Covid test report was received on Saturday which came out negative but today he picked up fever,” Pakistan team doctor Sohail Saleem said.
“As soon as his condition was reported, he was isolated from the rest of the squad in the team hotel. We are constantly monitoring his condition and remain hopeful of his quick recovery; however he is not fit to travel with the squad and as such has been withdrawn from the touring party.”
Pakistan had named a 35-member squad for the New Zealand tour. Their first warm-up game will be against New Zealand A in Queenstown on December 10.