Pakistan captain Babar Azam ruled out of New Zealand T20I series
Pakistan captain Babar Azam is set to miss the three-match T20I series against New Zealand after suffering a fracture in his right thumb during Sunday morning's practice session. It is said that Babar suffered the injury during a throw-down session after which he was taken to the hospital in Queenstown for X-rays. The tests revealed the extent of his injury.
"Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport and while it is hugely disappointing to lose a player of Babar Azam's calibre for the T20Is, this opens up opportunities for the other highly talented and exciting players to step-up, understand their responsibilities and try to prove that the Pakistan side is a complete package," Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said.
"I have spoken with Babar and he is sad to miss the T20I series as he was fully focused and keenly looking forward to the T20Is. We have a long season of cricket ahead and we now hope that he regains complete fitness as early as possible so that he can return to competitive cricket," he added.
Absence of Babar Azam from the top order means Pakistan may look to promote Mohammad Hafeez up in the line-up and look for a new hitter in a lower order.
The Pakistan cricket team have other injury issues as well. T20I vice-captain, Shadab Khan, who missed the home series Zimbabwe in November, is yet to recover from his groin problem, and the Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed that a decision over his availability will be taken just before the game.
"We remain optimistic that he will be available for the T20Is," Misbah said about his leg-spinning lynchpin, "but we will neither risk him nor the team's chances if we think he needs a few more days to be back to his complete fitness."
Furthermore, Imam-ul-Haq is also suffering from a fractured thumb and the 25-year-old incidentally picked the injury during a throw-down session on Saturday and has been advised 12 days' rest.
Pakistan kick-off their New Zealand tour from December 18 with the first of the three T20Is at Eden Park.
Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20Is:
Shadab Khan (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir and Wahab Riaz. Babar Azam (withdrawn due to injury)
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Jewel Samad