Coronavirus wrap: New Zealand rugby returns with fans as Afridi tests positive

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Rugby union has returned in New Zealand in front of fans while former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus and asked for prayers for his recovery.

Those supporters in attendance at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin were treated to a dramatic finish in the opener of the new Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament.

The Highlanders’ Bryn Gatland thwarted his father, former Wales head coach Warren, as he scored a last-minute drop goal to beat his Chiefs team 28-27.

The Highlanders won a dramatic contest
The Highlanders won a dramatic contest (Joe Allison/Photosport via AP)

The match went down to the wire, with Damian McKenzie’s late drop-kick putting the Chiefs on top before Gatland’s dramatic intervention.

“If anyone was going to do it, it was going to be him,” Warren Gatland said on Sky Sports.

Provincial Union XV v British and Irish Lions – Toll Stadium
Bryn Gatland, left, scored a late drop-goal to beat his father Warren’s Chiefs (David Davies/PA)

Afridi, who played 27 Tests, 398 one-day internationals and 99 Twenty20 matches for Pakistan, announced the diagnosis on social media.

“I’ve been feeling unwell since Thursday; my body had been aching badly,” he wrote. “I’ve been tested and unfortunately I’m covid positive. Need prayers for a speedy recovery, InshaAllah #COVID19 #pandemic #hopenotout #staysafe #stayhome”

Afridi is the third Pakistan cricketer to test positive for the virus following Taufeeq Umar and Zafar Sarfaraz.

He has most recently been playing for Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League, which was suspended in March due to the outbreak.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq sent his best wishes to Afridi, saying: “My prayers are with him, all well wishes with him that he gets out of this soon.

“Throughout the Covid situation he was helping the poor, doing a very good job. I think he was doing a lot of work in the area of Balochistan and the northern areas just to help the people.”

Formula One races this season will not end with the usual podium celebrations
Formula One races this season will not end with the usual podium celebrations (Bradley Collyer/PA)

F1 managing director Ross Brawn said: “Because of the implementation of the procedures, we need to be safe and sure of the Covid-19 situation. The practises we have had in the past just can’t be done.

“The podium procedure can’t happen (as it does now), but we’re looking at doing something on the grid after the race. One option would be to line the cars up on the track and the drivers will stand in front of cars.

“We can’t present the trophies, as you can’t have someone in close proximity presenting a trophy, but we have worked it out, we have plans and procedures, we’re looking at how we can present it on TV.”

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