Pakistan skipper Babar Azam ruled out of New Zealand T20Is

Vice-Captain Shadab Khan also carrying a groin niggle and is still uncertain for the first T20I.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Pakistan team was in the news soon after landing in New Zealand for breaching multiple COVID-19 protocols. It was a serious case even as the team was on final warning and another such breach, would’ve led to New Zealand sending the visitors back home. However, after a prolonged period of isolation and negative COVID-19 tests, the tourists finally took the field for training earlier this week with the three-match T20I series to be played from December 18.

Accordingly, they started practising hard for the series only to be dealt with a huge blow five days ahead of the opening T20I. Their skipper Babar Azam has suffered a finger injury which has ruled him out of the entire T20I series. He injured his right thumb during the throw-down session and the X-Rays in a local hospital confirmed a fracture.

The doctors will continue to monitor his situation during the 12-day period and then take a call on Babar Azam’s participation in the first of the two-match Test series starting 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. 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,” Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said according to the PCB Press Release.

Shadab Khan also uncertain for the first T20I

In Babar Azam’s absence, leg-spinner Shadab Khan is expected to lead Pakistan. But he is also carrying a groin niggle and he only batted in the nets on Sunday. The decision on him playing in the first T20I will be taken just before the match.

“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. Meanwhile, Imam-ul-Haq also fractured his left thumb on Saturday and has been advised rest for 12 days.

Even he will not play the four-day match for Pakistan Shaheens against New Zealand ‘A’, which starts in Whangarei on Thursday, December 17.