A dozen Pakistani first-class players and three tennis players find themselves stuck in Sri Lanka due to the suspension of all international flights in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the outbreak has led to suspension sports activities all around the world , in this case, it has also led to a testing time for the cricketers and tennis players.
Azhar Attari, a prominent first-class player, confirmed on phone that they were still in Colombo waiting to fly home.
Attari said he and 11 other players had reached Colombo around December to play in some first-class and one-day games, making them eligible to sign work permits to play league cricket in the UK.
He explained the need to play first-class cricket in Sri Lanka arose after the Pakistan Cricket Board ended the role of departmental teams in domestic cricket with just six provincial teams playing first-class cricket, reducing opportunities.
Another first class cricketer, Abid Hasan, said they are constantly in touch with the Pakistan High Commission to fly back home even on chartered flights as their money had run out after having to stay indoors for so long due to the lockdown in Colombo and its outskirts.
“They relaxed the lockdown for a few hours but yesterday again imposed a 24-hour lockdown due to a spike in cases,” he said.
He said the local clubs had been kind enough to provide accommodation to the players when the lockdown started but rest of the expenses they had to take care themselves.
Attari said he had even gone back to Pakistan for a while after the death of his mother but came back to complete his five first-class matches requirement.