Coronavirus-depleted Pakistan cricket squad leave for England

Coronavirus-depleted Pakistan cricket squad leave for England
Police vans escort vehicles carrying Pakistan’s cricket team players as they leave for the airport in Lahore on June 28, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Coronavirus-depleted Pakistan cricket squad leave for England

Coronavirus-depleted Pakistan cricket squad leave for England
  • Squad will face a two-week isolation period on arrival before continuing their preparations
  • Pakistan are due to play three Tests against England in August followed by three Twenty20 internationals

LAHORE, Pakistan: The Pakistan cricket squad left Sunday for their England tour without 10 players who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Test skipper Azhar Ali said Pakistan the tourists were looking forward to playing in what will be some of the first Test matches since the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a global lockdown.
“All the players are excited after a tough period,” said Azhar on the eve of departure.
“Though a tour to England has always been challenging, our performances there on the last two tours (in 2016 and 2018) are encouraging and we will try to repeat those.”
Pakistan drew a four-Test series 2-2 in 2016 and a two-match series 1-1 two years later.
A chartered plane carried 20 squad members including two reserves, who were seen wearing masks and observing social distancing at Lahore airport in pictures released by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The squad will face a two-week isolation period on arrival before continuing their preparations ahead of the first Test with two four-day warm-up matches.
The traveling party did not include 10 players who tested positive for the virus last week. Six later tested negative for the virus, but will players will be allowed to rejoin the squad once they have had two consecutive negative results.
Pakistan are due to play three Tests against England in August followed by three Twenty20 internationals.


Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Updated 02 December 2020

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League
  • Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv

MADRID: Lionel Messi will get some time off for the last time this season in Barcelona's Champions League match on Wednesday.

Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho will be rested by coach Ronald Koeman at Ferencváros in Group G. Barcelona secured a spot in the last 16 after winning their first four group matches.

Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong was also left out of that match in Kyiv.

“I know it’s not usual, but with the calendar that we have this season, we only had two opportunities to rest Leo, in Kyiv and tomorrow (Wednesday),” Koeman said. “Of course he is a player who likes to play always, and that’s a good mentality. I asked him, but the final decision is always by the coach. The rest of the season he cannot rest anymore because then we play every three days.”

Koeman said Messi will remain crucial for Barcelona even if he doesn't play as much or as well as in the past.

“Leo is always Leo,” he said. “Maybe it has been a slower start to his season, but he doesn’t need to score 30 goals every season. He has been working well and remains very important for us offensively.”

Koeman said Messi’s absence opens the way for others to get some minutes.

“I want to give opportunities to some other players," he said. "Saturday’s match is very important for us in the (Spanish) league and we have to win it.”

Barcelona visit  promoted Cádiz on Saturday in La Liga, where they sit  in seventh place.

Barcelona have a three-point lead over Juventus in their Champions League group. Juventus host  Dynamo on Wednesday and visit  Barcelona in the final round.

Other Barcelona players will be absent on Wednesday because of injuries, including Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.