Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the first Test against New Zealand in Mount Manganui and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan will lead the team in his absence.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed this when announcing the 17-man squad for the match, which will begin on Boxing Day.
Azam will miss the match as he is recovering from the fractured right thumb that has sidelined him for the ongoing three-match T20 series.
In addition to Azam, opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has also been ruled out of the first Test against the Black Caps with a fractured left thumb.
Meanwhile, Imran Butt could potentially make his international debut as he has been named in the squad.
Imran was the highest run-scorer in last year’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy as he amassed 934 runs in nine matches for Balochistan, which included four centuries and three fifties, at an average of 62.26.
In this year’s tournament, the 24-year-old has scored 191 runs, which includes two half-centuries, at an average of 31.83.
“It is disappointing to lose the T20I series against a well-settled New Zealand side, who utilised their resources and conditions to their advantage,” Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said in a PCB press release. “We need to up [our] skill and improve our individual and team performances, including in Tuesday’s match, and the sooner we get these sorted the better it will be in term of player confidences and team results as 2021 will not be any easier as we have two major events.
“Contrary to the T20I side, the Test side appears to be pretty organised and we boast some experienced cricketers, both in batting and bowling departments. With some competitive cricket on the tour now under the belt, I am hoping we will be a better outfit in the longer version of the game.
“Although it will be nearly two weeks to Babar’s injury when the first Test starts, it will be hard on him and the team to play him without any net sessions. I remain confident and optimistic that other players will rise to the occasion in Mount Maunganui and use the opportunity to rise to the occasion and put the disappointment of the T20I series behind them.”
Pakistan’s Test Squad: Mohammad Rizwan (captain for 1st Test), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah, Babar Azam (not available for 1st Test) and Imam-ul-Haq (not available for 1st Test)