March 17, 2020 / 10:26 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 2-Cricket-Pakistan postpones T20 league after player shows coronavirus symptoms

* PSL postponed hours before semi-finals in Lahore

* Decision after overseas player showed coronavirus symptoms

* Ramiz Raja identifies Alex Hales, who denies having had symptoms in Pakistan (Updates with Alex Hales’ statement)

LAHORE, March 17 (Reuters) - The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has been postponed with immediate effect after an overseas player showed symptoms of coronavirus, the country’s cricket board said on Tuesday.

The postponement was announced hours before the semi-final matches were due to start in Lahore.

“This decision was taken after a player, who had left Pakistan a few days ago, showed symptoms of COVID-19 and he will undergo screening shortly,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement.

Former Pakistan player and commentator Ramiz Raja said on Twitter here that opening batsman Alex Hales had "self quarantined himself" but the Englishman released a statement later saying he developed symptoms only after returning to the United Kingdom.

"I returned to the UK in the early hours of Saturday morning feeling perfectly fit and healthy and with absolutely no symptoms of the virus," Hales said in a statement here

“However, I awoke early on Sunday morning having developed a fever and followed the government’s advice on self-isolation, a process I am obviously still following having developed a dry and persistent cough.

“At this stage, it has not been possible to be tested although I am hopeful that might be the case later today so that I can get absolute confirmation of my current health status.”

Players, support staff, match officials, franchise owners and production crew have since undergone tests and have been asked to wait for results before planning any travel.

Multan were to face Peshawar in the first semi-final at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium followed by the second match between Karachi and Lahore.

The final was scheduled for the same venue on Wednesday.

All three matches would be rescheduled to a later date, said the PCB, which has suspended all domestic cricket.

The franchise-based Twenty20 competition was shortened by four days last week and a number of foreign players left before the semi-finals.

The last leg of Bangladesh’s tour of Pakistan, which involved a test match and a one-day international in Karachi next month, was postponed on Monday.

“Sad to see the PSL end, but health and safety of all concerned is the key...” Multan’s Shahid Afridi tweeted.

The PSL postponement followed Pakistan’s decision to suspend all domestic soccer because of the coronavirus outbreak which has shut down sport around the world and killed more than 7,000 people. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Ed Osmond and Giles Elgood)

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