A sense of normality returns to cricket on Friday when New Zealand takes on West Indies in their Twenty20 series opener with no restrictions on the crowd size in Auckland, but the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cast a long shadow over the tour.

The global health crisis fractured the buildup to the three Twenty20, two-Test series for both sides, with some players only released from isolation on Thursday after returning from the rearranged Indian Premier League.

Also on Thursday, six members of the touring Pakistan squad tested positive for Covid-19 while in managed isolation in Christchurch, highlighting the precarious nature of sports tours during the pandemic.

The fixture list for the West Indies tour is more congested than typical series, with the three Twenty20s to be played over four days before the first Test starts on Dec. 3 in Hamilton.

Six positive Covid-19 tests in Pakistan…

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