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News

Rawalpindi Test between Pakistan and England to begin as scheduled

The ECB informed the PCB on Thursday morning that they had enough fit players to field an XI

Ben Stokes did not train on the eve of the Test  •  ECB Images

Ben Stokes did not train on the eve of the Test  •  ECB Images

The first Test between Pakistan and England in Rawalpindi will start as scheduled today after the visitors passed a medical assessment on the morning of the match. However, changes are expected to the playing XI that England had announced 48 hours ahead of the match.
The prospect of the Test being delayed arose on the eve of the match after an illness swept through the England camp, casting doubt over whether they would have enough fit players to take the field.
Following emergency talks on Wednesday evening between PCB chairman Ramiz Raja and ECB officials Rob Key and Neil Snowball, along with ECB medical director Nick Peirce and team doctor Anita Biswas, a decision was made to wait until 7:30am on Thursday morning before determining whether the Test would go ahead as planned or be delayed by 24 hours. The virus had initially wiped out 14 members of the touring group including half of the 16-man playing squad, with symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting.
Following an assessment by Dr Peirce and Dr Biswas of the touring group, many of whom were confined to their hotel rooms on Wednesday, the results confirmed England would be able to field an XI.
A joint statement from the ECB and PCB said: "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 (Thursday, 1 December) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium."
The make-up of the team, however, is subject to change. Captain Ben Stokes, who named his side on Tuesday, James Anderson and Jack Leach were among the worst affected, with others due to play also battling to shake off the bug. Training on Wednesday was optional with only Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope and Joe Root attending the session. All bar Jennings had been named in the initial team, along with a debut for Liam Livingstone, a recall after six years for opener Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, and Ollie Robinson.
England will leave the Serena Hotel at 8am as originally planned and will name their XI at the toss, which is due to take place at 9.30am local time.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo