Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday (December 1) morning released a statement regarding the first Test match in Rawalpindi between Pakistan and England. Despite the speculation that the match could be postponed, the PCB has stated that the opening Test will go ahead as per the schedule and there will be no changes in the date. The decision was taken in consultation with the England Cricket Board (ECB) and the players from the England camp who were affected by the virus on Wednesday and were likely to be unavailable for the opening Test.
“The ECB has informed the PCB that they are in a position to field an XI, and, as such, the first #PAKvENG Test will commence as per schedule today (Thursday, 1 December) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium,” read the PCB statement on its official Twitter handle.
Earlier discussions between PCB and ECB
Pakistan and England Boards had agreed on Wednesday (November 30) to the option of pushing back the start of the first Test by one day to give more time to recover to the visiting players suffering from a viral infection, according to PCB sources. A viral outbreak in the England camp has left five to six of their players, some support staff members and their travelling chef indisposed, ahead of the visiting team's first Test in Pakistan in 17 years, scheduled to begin on Thursday.
The development led to discussions between the two Boards about postponing the start of the match by one day. Only five England players -- Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings -- took part in an optional training session at the Pindi stadium on Wednesday while the rest, including captain Ben Stokes, stayed back at the team hotel.
A ceremony on Wednesday for the two captains to unveil the series trophy was postponed to give Stokes time to recover.
Livingstone to make debut
The schedule of the second Test (December 9-13) in Multan and the third Test (December 17-21) in Karachi will now remain unaffected and will be played as per the original schedule. England have already named their playing XI for the first of the three-match Test series with Liam Livingstone set to make his debut and Ben Duckett penciled as opener with Crawley. Veteran fast bowler James Anderson and Ollie Robinson are the two specialists fast bowler with Stokes as the other seaming option.