Pakistan cricket legend Shoaib Akhtar has hit out at New Zealand Cricket for threatening to cancel his former team's tour after six Pakistani players tested positive for Covid-19 at their managed isolation facility in Christchurch.
The six players affected were named on social media and are former captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Rohail Nazir, Danish Aziz and Naseem Shah.
NZ Cricket was made aware that some members of the Pakistan team had contravened protocols on the first day of managed isolation. The entire team were given a "final warning" by the Government for breaching rules.
However, Akhtar warned NZC to "behave yourself" for threatening to cancel the tour, accusing the New Zealand governing body of treating the Pakistan team like a club team.
"New Zealand's comment that if Pakistan's team's SOP (standard operating procedures) is not in place then we will cancel the tour is below the belt," Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
"I want to give a message to New Zealand board (NZC) that this is not a club team, it's Pakistan national cricket team.
'We don't need you. Our cricket has not finished.
"You will get the broadcasting rights money. So, you should be indebted to us that we decided to tour your country in such difficult times.
"You are talking about Pakistan - the greatest country on the planet – so behave yourself and stop giving such statement. Be careful next time. Pakistan team now needs to smash them in T20 series."
The former fast bowler even called on the Pakistan Cricket Board to boycott NZC.
"The PCB should show some toughness," he said.
"If I was in their place, I would have given a statement saying that if New Zealand Cricket aren't happy, we won't play them and will bring our team back and we won't play against you for five years."
The cricketing great didn't stop there and also slammed the Pakistan Cricket Board for sending players to New Zealand on a commercial flight.
"When the tour of England was organised, players were sent on chartered flights," he said.
"But this time, first you went to Dubai, then to Kuala Lampur and then to Auckland. Does the PCB's brain not work and realise you could have organised a chartered flight?"
In a WhatsApp voice note sent to Pakistan players on Thursday, Pakistan Cricket Board boss Wasim Khan said he was given a "final warning" by both NZC and the New Zealand Government, AP reported.
"They have told me straightaway that one more breach and they will send the whole team back," Khan said in the message, recorded in the Urdu language, adding that "it will be embarrassing" if they were sent home.
"They have zero tolerance and they have given us a final warning. I know it's difficult times for you and it's not easy.
"You have operated in similar conditions (playing) in England ... it's a matter of the country's respect and credibility. Please observe 14 days, then you will get freedom in New Zealand to go out in restaurants and roam around, but please adhere to full protocols."
When asked his thoughts on the issue ahead of their T20 match against the Black Caps tonight, West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said things could be misunderstood.
"Some things could've been a little more humanly and homely, the way they deal with certain things and guys coming from different parts of the world, different cultures understand rules and regulations in different parts and tend to get a misunderstanding with certain things," he said. "So we got a slap on the wrist for whatever, we apologised, it was a bit strict for us but hence why we are here or we might've been with Pakistan right now."
Black Caps captain Tim Southee hoped they would learn their lesson.
"It's disappointing but shows that the systems and process of the testing is working and they can get onto it early and can abide by the rules," he said.
"Hopefully the slap on the wrist has worked and the Pakistan boys follow the protocols and rules that are in place."
Pakistan are set to face the Black Caps in three T20 internationals and two tests, with the first match on 18 December.
The Ministry of Health revealed that several team members have been seen on CCTV at the facility breaching managed isolation rules, despite "clear, consistent and detailed communication of expected behaviours while in the facility."
In a statement, the Ministry said that the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning.
All members of the team returned a negative Covid-19 test and passed a symptom check before departing Lahore.
Fifty-three members of the squad arrived in Christchurch on 24 November and were tested on day one, with the six cases coming as a result of the tests.
All cases are being moved to quarantine rooms within the facility at the Chateau on the Park hotel. Members of the team will be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation.
The Medical Officer of Health at Canterbury District Health Board has sent a letter to the squad's management to be communicated to the whole team, reinforcing that all team members are required to stay in their rooms until advised otherwise.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said any breaches of managed isolation rules were taken very seriously.
"It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe."
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, said there are robust processes in place in managed isolation facilities to respond to these events.
"Our focus is on keeping the rest of the squad and our staff safe. For that reason, all other team members must remain in their rooms while investigations continue. This is in line with standard operating procedures at managed isolation facilities."