Pak cricketer suspects foreign player to have COVID-19

Ramiz Raja says England's Alex Hales might have shown COVID-19 symptoms before leaving Pakistan Super League

Pakistan's former Test captain and commentator Ramiz Raja on Tuesday claimed that England's Alex Hales might have shown symptoms of the dreaded COVID-19 before flying back midway through the now-postponed Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Raja made the statement while talking to the media in Lahore after the PSL was postponed on the day of its semifinal matches and a day before the final. As a precautionary measure, all PSL players and broadcasters are now being tested for the virus.

Hales, who played for Karachi Kings in the league, left early for the home with other English players after the outbreak of the virus in Pakistan.

"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 reportedly gone into self-isolation after reaching England.

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

Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Wasim Khan also said that a foreign player, who participated in the league, is suspected to have coronavirus. Khan did not reveal the name of the player or if he is currently in Pakistan.

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.

A statement from the PCB said that the cricketing body would use its "reach and influence to play its part in all government drives and initiatives to create awareness and deal with this pandemic."

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

Raja also felt that PCB had taken the right decision to postpone the event, which was to have its semifinals on Tuesday in Lahore.

"I think everything was going fine and matches were being held in empty stadiums but now situation has changed and I think if they had held the matches now it could have been a disaster," he said.

"It is an unfortunate scenario because we came today with preparations for the matches.

"We all have to adjust now because life is no longer normal now as situation is tough because we have to fight now against this virus. We can't take anything for granted. The world is adjusting now," he added.

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

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