Babar Azam ruled out of second New Zealand Test

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Misbah-ul-Haq 'hopeful' Babar Azam will be fit for Christchurch Test


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Pakistan are hopeful he will be available for the home series against South Africa

Pakistan’s regular Test captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the second Test in Christchurch starting Sunday. Mohammad Rizwan will lead Pakistan again, like he did in the first Test. Azam had a “full-fledged” training session in Christchurch on Friday but he felt slight pain in his thumb which he had fractured earlier on the tour. The team management decided against taking any risk and ruled him out of the second Test.

“We have seen improvement in Babar Azam’s injury but he is yet to fully recover,” team doctor Sohail Saleem said. “He is our captain and the most important batsman in the line-up, so we do not want to take any risk.

“The medical team is constantly reviewing his injury and we are hopeful he will be available for the home series against South Africa.”

Azam hasn’t played any game on the tour so far, having sustained a blow to his thumb while taking throwdowns at a training session in Queenstown last month, before the T20I series began. He hit the nets for a full session only on Friday. With the thumb injury not healed fully though, he couldn’t bat pain free. Last week, Imam-ul-Haq had been sent back home with a similar injury.

With Azam injured, Pakistan lost the T20I series 2-1, picking up a consolation victory in the third match in Napier thanks to Rizwan’s 89, and lost the first Test of the two-match series in a nail-biting finish.

The absence of the regular captain meant Pakistan experimented with their line-up, bringing in the 21-year-old Abdullah Shafique for the first two T20Is. Shafique, however, was dismissed without scoring in both games.

The 24-year-old Imran Butt was called up to the Test squad, but he didn’t make the XI for the first Test. Butt was the leading run-getter in the 2019-20 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with 934 runs at an average of over 62.



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