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England’s first Test in Pakistan going ahead as planned despite illness in touring camp | Cricket News

The first Test of England’s tour of Pakistan will go ahead as scheduled despite an outbreak of illness in the touring camp.

England’s first Test in Pakistan for 17 years gets under way on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, with the fifth and final day taking place on Monday if the contest goes the distance.

The illness, which is believed to be a bug or virus rather than Covid-19, affected approximately 13 to 14 members of the touring party, with around half of that number members of the playing squad, including captain Ben Stokes.

After talks between the England and Wales Cricket Board and Pakistan Cricket Board, a decision on when the match would start was delayed until Thursday morning in the hope that England’s players may recover overnight, which now appears to be the case.

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“The ECB has informed the PCB that they are in a position to field an XI, and, as such, the first Test will commence as per schedule today at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium,” it said on Thursday morning.

An ECB spokesperson said on Wednesday that symptoms of the illness included vomiting, diarrhoea, chills and aches.

Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope and Joe Root reported for Wednesday’s practice session at the stadium in Rawalpindi – taken by head coach Brendon McCullum – with the rest of the squad remaining at their Islamabad base.

Former captain Root said he had experienced symptoms on Tuesday but quickly recovered.

Liam Livingstone – who is set to make his Test debut in Rawalpindi having been named in a proposed starting XI on Tuesday – told Sky Sports News Wednesday: “It was weird [on Tuesday], one by one the lads just sort of went, ‘I don’t feel too good’ and went back to their room. I have been fine, touch wood.

“It’s obviously not nice and I don’t know what’s going to happen but hopefully the lads can get over it. I think a good sign is that they are back eating.”

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Rawalpindi is hosting the first contest of the England Test team’s long-awaited return to Pakistan, with the three-match series then moving on to Multan (December 9-13), before concluding in Karachi (December 17-21).

Watch the first day of the first Test Rawalpindi live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 4.30am Thursday, play starts at 5am.

Abdullah Anaman
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