New Zealand vs Pakistan: Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq ruled out of first Test, Imran Butt named in the 17-man squad

Pakistan has already lost the ongoing T20I series against the Black Caps.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

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Pakistan skipper Babar Azam was already down with a thumb fracture and didn’t get to be part of the T20I series against the Black Caps. In the latest turn of events, Azam and opener Imam-ul-Haq have been ruled out of the opening Test against New Zealand. The first Test will get staged on December 26 in Mount Maunganui, and the committee has named efficient domestic Test scorer Imran Butt in the 17 player squad.

After suffering the thumb fracture, Azam was ruled out of the T20I series. He suffered the injury while being in the net sessions at Queenstown last week. He is yet to return to the practice and remains under the tight scrutiny of medical staff. However, their participation in the next Test, beginning in Christchurch on January 3, will be made, as per the condition.

Babar’s Azam indicates that Mohammad Rizan would be leading up the Pakistan side in the first Test. When he will be out for the toss on Saturday, he would be their 33rd skipper to lead the side in the purest format of the game. Talking about the brilliance of Imran Butt in near time, he scored 191 runs in the ongoing four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches.

Balochistan’s man topped the batting charts in the 2019-20 season of the same trophy after amassing 934 runs at an average of over 62 and had four centuries in his bag. The players returning to the Pakistan side are Abid Ali, Fawad Alam, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, and Yasir Shah.

Misbah-ul-Haq on Pakistan’s T20I series loss

“It is disappointing to lose the T20I series against a well-settled New Zealand side, who utilised their resources and conditions to their advantage. We need to upskill 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,” said Misbah-ul-Haq as quoted by Pakistan Cricket Board.

Pakistan squad for Tests: 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 and Yasir Shah. (Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq not available for the first Test)