Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq on Friday revealed that Pakistan had discussed with their cricket board the option of pulling out of New Zealand while they were in managed isolation but the players and officials decided to complete the tour.
They were initially supposed to serve just 3 days isolation post which they would be allowed to train in small groups. However, some players were found to be flouting the covid protocols. They were seen sharing food, roaming out of their rooms, and mingling with each other while placed in isolation.
Hence, the New Zealand government and cricket board gave them a ‘final warning’ and another breach of the rules may have resulted in the team being sent back home.
“Obviously these were not normal circumstances and we discussed options with the cricket board, but in the end, we decided that now that we have already been in New Zealand for so long we must remain and finish the tour,” Misbah said when asked if the option of returning home was discussed while the team was in quarantine.
The former captain spoke at length about how they have to train and practice in a week rather than the expected three weeks duration. He also pointed out that the cricket board have to find ways to make the lives of the players easier in the bio-bubble.
“But in the end, we have to make up for the lost time and we are now on a mission to play good cricket and win here. If we have to co-exist with COVID-19 and also ensure cricket is played then all teams have to give sacrifices as we did here.”
“It is a great stress mentally on the players who are the main stakeholders of the sport and from what I know cricket boards are already working on ways to ease things for us,” added Misbah-ul-Haq.
Misbah feels New Zealand will be tough opponents at home with their battery of pacers but said Pakistan too have a strong bowling attack and they will put up a strong challenge to the hosts.
“New Zealand in their own conditions are very strong as they know the grounds angles and pitches they have an advantage. They also have a very good pace attack and some bowlers like Ferguson bowling around 150 kmph,” he said.
“But even we have a couple of bowlers like Naseem, Hasnain, Haris, Wahab who clock around 150KPH and above and Shaheen (Shah Afridi) is also nippy at his peak. So I think if our batsmen face a challenge against their pace bowlers it is the same for them.”
The 3-match T20I series begins on 18th December followed by 2 Test matches. This is Babar Azam’s first assignment as an all-format leader.