What’s the story?
Pakistan ODI team captain Azhar Ali has been ruled out of the second ODI of the ongoing series against Australia. Ali had suffered a hamstring injury while batting during the first ODI at Brisbane. The 31-year-old had retired hurt from the Pakistan innings, though he returned to bat later in a bid to guide Pakistan to a win.
Pakistan lost the first ODI to go behind 1-0 in the five-match ODI series. Mohammad Hafeez has been named as the skipper for the match.
In case you didn’t know...
Azhar Ali was Pakistan’s premier batsman in the test series against Australia. The 31-year-old became the first Pakistan batsman to collect 400 runs from a test series Down Under.
Vice-captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Irfan had already returned earlier to their home country due to personal reasons.
The heart of the matter
Pakistan was eagerly waiting for the fitness reports of the team’s captain before the second ODI at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. Trailing by 1-0 in the series, the Pakistan team were definitely looking forward to having the services of its best batsman on the tour.
The Pakistani team have so far been winless on this tour.
Azhar Ali’s absence at the top means Pakistan will have to rework their batting order. Asad Shafiq could partner Sharjeel Khan to open the innings for Pakistan or the captain Mohammad Hafeez could go in as an opener with another batsman slotted in the middle order.
Shoaib Malik missed the first ODI due to illness and will most certainly be back in the playing XI for the second ODI.
Pakistan play Australia in the second ODI at the MCG on Sunday. Ali is expected to recover from the injury and is expected to be fit for the remaining matches of the series.
Ali has been the only bright light shining in an otherwise dismal display of batsmanship by the Pakistan players.
The Pakistani batsman’s injury is a big blow to their hopes of staging a comeback in the series at the MCG. A loss in the second ODI would leave the Men in Green with an improbable task of winning three out of three matches.