ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan considered abandoning its cricket tour of New Zealand while in 14-day quarantine and coach Misbah-ul-Haq says they opted to stay for their fans.
Pakistan made a rocky start to managed isolation when eight of the 53-strong tour party tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival and, on the first day, players breached the strict health protocols by mingling in corridors and sharing food.
The team was stripped of its allowance to train, issued with a final warning by the New Zealand government and risked being expelled from the country. But there were no more breaches.
“We did discuss (pulling out of the tour) but then finally decided to say no to this option because when you invest this much time on this, then you have got to give it a shot,” Misbah said in an online news conference on Friday.
“Coping in the (COVID-19) situation isn’t easy for anyone, but if we want to keep the game alive and keep it going we have to make this sacrifice for fans sitting at home who want to watch the game and get entertained in this difficult time.”
Pakistan came out of quarantine on Tuesday and players and moved from Christchurch to the resort town o of Queenstown to begin preparing for the first of three Twenty20s against New Zealand next Friday.
Misbah said the time in isolation will not be an excuse if results don’t go their way in the T20s and the two test matches.
“As professionals we are not looking for excuses, because at the end of the day, no matter whatever excuse you make, people consider end results,” he said. “Whatever happened, we can’t do much about it.
"What we can control is catching up with every minute and every moment we couldn’t get in those 14 days.
“You think about how many days we need to prepare, how we are going to prepare, how to lift your team. Obviously these aren’t normal circumstances, what happens here isn’t ideal. But then for the sake of international cricket you want cricket to go on, and being a big stakeholder, we will give our full effort to help cricket overall.”
Misbah believed Pakistan has the pace to match the likes of New Zealand seamers Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult.
“Shaheen (Afridi) and Wahab (Riaz) are quite experienced now. Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain are also progressing with every series so they all are getting into the groove," Misbah said. "They have the skills, potential, pace and swing -- this package can surprise anyone.
“If New Zealand have Ferguson as their main pacer who clocked around 150 kph, then we have three to four fast bowlers with a similar knack. If they think they can challenge us with pace then they also have to face the same challenge as well. New Zealand are a tough side at home and playing well against West Indies, but they will be challenged and you will get to see good cricket.”
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