PSL postponed after foreign player shows COVID-19 symptoms; Ramiz Raja names Hales

Karachi: The ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) was on Tuesday suspended after the country’s Cricket Board revealed that a foreign player showed symptoms of the dreaded COVID-19 with former captain-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja claiming that it was England’s Alex Hales.

The PSL had entered the knockout stages and semifinal matches were due to be played on Tuesday and final on Wednesday in Lahore. The PCB had also shortened the league by four days considering the worsening coronavirus situation but was forced to call it off on Tuesday.

“…this new development came after a player who left Pakistan told us that (he has) symptoms and this (decision to suspend PSL) isn’t in light of being panicked…we made our decision after thorough deliberation,” PCB CEO Wasim Khan said.

“But before this there was no suspected case at all, which is why the decision wasn’t made before,” he added.

Pakistan’s former Test captain Raja claimed that Hales might be the player being suspected. As a precautionary measure, all PSL players and broadcasters are now being tested for the virus.

“What I know is that he is yet to have tests but we don’t know whether the symptoms he has is of Corona or not. But we all now need to be very cautious and obviously adopt a common sense approach to deal with this problem,” Raja said.

The 31-year-old Hales, a right-handed opener, has gone into self-isolation after reaching England.

“…I awoke early on Sunday morning having developed a fever and followed the governments advice of self-isolation, a process I am obviously still following having developed a dry and persistent cough,” Hales said in a statement.

“At this stage, it has not been possible to be tested although I am hopeful that might be the case later today so I can get absolute confirmation of my current health status,” he added.

In the PSL semifinals, Multan Sultans were to take on Peshawar Zalmi at 2pm at the Gaddafi Stadium, followed by a clash between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars at the same venue in the evening.

Most of the 34 foreign players, who took part in the PSL, began heading home last week after the PCB said it would not stop anyone from withdrawing from the league due to the Coronavirus fears.

Responding to a question Khan said that the Karachi Kings team had reservations about playing in the tournament and the decision was then made after consulting all the franchises.

“We have done everything to ensure health and safety of everyone because of the coronavirus and we consulted the government and health officials in all decisions,” he said.

The PCB on Monday called off an upcoming ODI and Test against Bangladesh next month. It also suspended its national one-day cup which was to begin from March 25 in Karachi.

COVID-19 has so far led to more than 7,000 deaths globally. In Pakistan, the infected count is close to 200 now.

The pandemic has caused a collapse of sports events worldwide in a year when several quadrennial events like the Olympics, Euro 2020 and Copa America are scheduled.

Last week, Australia’s ODI series against New Zealand was called off after the first match, as was India’s ODI series against South Africa. Both series were to be held without spectators before being scrapped.

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was also cut short before the beginning of the two-match Test series while the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was due to start on March 29, has been suspended till April 15.

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