Pakistan skipper Babar Azam and opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq have been ruled out of the first Test against New Zealand, starting from December 26 in Mount Maunganui.
Babar had fractured his right thumb, while Imam had fractured his left thumb during training sessions in Queenstown last week. Pakistan team’s medical staff is carefully monitoring the progress of both the players concerning their participation in the second Test, which starts in Christchurch from January 3.
In the absence of Babar, wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan will captain the side in the two-match Test series opener.
The selection committee has named Balochistan-lad Imran Butt in the 17-man squad for the two Tests. Imran had a splendid season in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring 191 runs in three matches before boarding a flight to New Zealand.
Despite losing Babar and Imam for the Bay Oval Test, Pakistan’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq reckoned their team is well organised when it comes to the longest format of the game.
“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 tour now under the belt, I am hoping we will be a better outfit in the longer version of the game,” said Misbah as quoted by Cricbuzz.
Misbah also opined that Babar’s absence is a good opportunity for other players to step up and rise to the occasion.
“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,” he added.
Here is Pakistan’s updated 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, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan.