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Hamstring injury rules out Azhar Ali of the 2nd ODI

Pakistan cricketer Azhar Ali
Pakistan cricketer Azhar Ali. (Photo credit LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Depleted Pakistan team were outplayed in the first ODI by the hosts Australia to win the game by a massive 92-run margin. Ahead of the second ODI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground they have received yet another blow as the Pakistan team management revealed that skipper Azhar Ali will not be available for the match and allrounder Mohammad Hafeez will be leading the team in his absence.

Azhar Ali sustained a hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the crucial fixture. Hafeez the stand-in skipper has no experience of captaining the ODI squad. He has in the past been the skipper of the Test as well as T20I team and the second ODI will be his first match as 50 overs captain of the national team. The injury might well keep Azhar away from the team for the third game as well that will be played on January 19 at Perth.

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Ideally, wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed who is the designated vice captain of the team should have taken up the role but he had to return back to Pakistan midway through to tour to take care of his ill mother. Earlier pacer Mohammed Irfan also had to fly back home immediately due to the demise of his mother.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in its statement stated that they expect Azhar Ali to “recover quickly and … return to play in Sydney and Adelaide.”

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Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur felt missing out key players was one of the reasons they lost the opening ODI to the hosts. “(Losing Sarfraz, Irfan, Malik and Ali) was all a bit of a calamity. But we’ll pick up the pieces and see who’s available for Sunday.”

He had also rued on the missed opportunities and said, “We’re not going to get Warner and Smith out for five runs again. We’re not going to have that opportunity again. Wadey played exceptionally well, but I still felt like we could have got them about for 220 or 230. We let that slip just a little bit.” Arthur said.

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