PSL 2021 postponed indefinitely as more players contracted COVID-19

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The remainder of the 2021 Pakistan Super League (PSL) has been postponed after three more players had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the tally of infected individuals in the biosecure bubble rose to seven, of which six were players. According to reports, the tentative date to resume the matches will be May this year, which will conflict on the IPL 2021, slated to be held in April-May window.

“The PCB, as an immediate step, will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants,” the cricket board said, adding the board’s immediate next step is to focus on the “safe and secure passage of all participants, and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines and isolation facilities”. The postponement of cricket matches was taken after an emergency meeting between the PCB and the franchises.

The board confirmed the new cases were not from any of the teams who played the double-header matches recently, which rules out players from Karachi Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Sultans or Quetta Gladiators. Karachi had hosted 14 of the 20 preliminary round matches before the event was due to move to Lahore for the remaining 14 games on 10 March.

It is learnt that the first case reported by the PCB was on March 1, when Islamabad United’s Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive for the virus hours before the 12th match of the season. Ahmed along with an unnamed foreign cricketer and a support staff member from one of the teams were already in isolation after being tested positive earlier this week.

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The league was postponed for a day when Ahmed tested positive. Gladiators’ Tom Banton later revealed on his Twitter account that he was one of those who were among the positive cases. Before deciding on the postponement, the PCB considered cancelling the Lahore leg of the season and playing all the matches in Karachi.

PCB chief executive Wasim Khan also admitted breaches of COVID-19 protocols in the bio-secure bubble have caused the postponement. “We had to deal with a minor breach at the beginning and we’ve done everything we possibly could,” Khan said. “This isn’t about a blame game, about who’s to blame. This is a collective effort that we all had a responsibility to actually police and self-police that environment.”

Earlier, reports claim that Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz and head coach Daren Sammy were allowed to rejoin their squad after an appeal against quarantine for breaching COVID-19 protocols was accepted by the PCB. Players’ families also joined the bubble without spending time in quarantine and proper testing. They were also seen with players in the stands at the National Stadium in Karachi.

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