Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the three-match T20 series against New Zealand after sustaining a fractured right thumb.
Azam suffered the injury during a throw-down session on Sunday morning and was taken to a local hospital, where X-rays confirmed the fracture.
The 26-year-old, who is second on the T20 International batsmen rankings, won’t be able to participate in any net sessions for at least 12 days and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit in time for the first Test against New Zealand, which begins in Mount Maunganui on December 26.
“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 in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) press release.
“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.”
Azam’s injury comes just a day after opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq fractured his left thumb during a throw-down session.
With Imam also out of action for 12 days, he won’t be available for the Pakistan Shaheens’ four-day match against New Zealand A, which gets underway in Whangarei on Thursday.
Meanwhile, vice-captain Shadab Khan is recovering from a groin niggle, which resulted in him only batting during Sunday’s training session.
Shadab missed the T20 series against Zimbabwe with a similar injury and it is unclear whether he will be fit for the first T20 International against New Zealand on December 18.
“The medical team is monitoring Shadab Khan’s groin niggle and we remain optimistic that he will be available for the T20Is, 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,” Misbah said.
Pakistan will play three T20 Internationals and two Tests in New Zealand, with the series beginning on December 18 and concluding on January 7.