ISLAMABAD: About 150 rooms have been booked over a large three-storey section to accommodate Pakistani and Australian cricket teams at a local premier hotel (Serena) in the city during the fortnight of the first leg of the stay for the opening Test of three matches starting at the Pindi stadium from March 4.
The News has learned from well-placed sources that the number of rooms booked was unprecedented for a single event. “Never before have so many rooms been reserved for a single event. No less than 150 rooms have been reserved for the visiting Australian and Pakistani teams. Since these rooms will be single occupancy, the requirements were to book in such large numbers,” the source said.
Most of the three floors will be off-limits to all foreigners due to COVID-19 bubble requirements. “The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be handling the COVID-19 protocols during the teams stay at the hotel. Some strict protocols will be in place during the bubble and this does not include any exposure or interaction with people outside the bubble who can even stay in the same hotel.
Members of the Pakistani team, not in the Pakistani Super League (PSL) qualifiers, are due to check in at the hotel on February 23, followed by three Australian team officials who arrive in Pakistan from other countries. They will spend their three-day quarantine period in Islamabad, unlike the Australian cricket team who will quarantine in Australia before flying a mapped plane to Pakistan. Even then, every member of the Australian cricket team will have to spend a day in self-isolation upon arrival in Islamabad upon arrival. Australian cricketers are expected to arrive in the city in the early hours of February 27 and would be free to follow their training schedule from February 28. However, the traveling team as well as the locals will have to pass all the tests related to COVID-19 before being confused.
Australian cricketers will be granted State Guest/VVIP status and provided with top-notch security coverage while in Pakistan.
All relevant security agencies have already finalized a comprehensive security plan to tightly control hotels and all roads leading to Pindi Stadium where a test match will be played.
The two teams will return to Islamabad on March 26 after playing back-to-back matches in Lahore and Karachi. The second leg of the stay in Islamabad will last 15 days where the two teams will be engaged in three ODIs and a unique T20.