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Babar Azam ruled out of second Test; Mohammad Rizwan to lead Pakistan

Babar Azam during a nets session
Babar Azam during a nets session
Modified 02 Jan 2021, 12:47 IST

Despite being cleared after recovering from a thumb fracture, Pakistan captain Babar Azam will miss the second Test against New Zealand starting Sunday (January 3) at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, confirmed a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) media release.

While Babar Azam participated in the visitors’ full-fledged training session on Friday (January 1), the star batsman complained of slight pain in the thumb following which the Pakistan team management decided to further his observation period.

Babar Azam fractured his thumb during a training session post the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period upon arriving in New Zealand. The injury sidelined him for Pakistan's opening Test, which they lost by a 101-run margin.

Pakistan team doctor Sohail Saleem confirmed Babar Azam has shown improvement in the latest nets session, but the 26-year-old is yet to attain full fitness.

“We have seen improvement in Babar Azam’s injury but he is yet to fully recover. He is our captain and the most important batsman in the line-up, so we do not want to take any risk,” Dr. Saleem was quoted as saying by the PCB release.

The development came to light hours after stand-in skipper Mohammad Rizwan confirmed Babar is “fine”, while adding the incumbent captain wants to assess himself before the management arrives at the final decision.

“He has batted very well in the nets and he’s fine now but he wants to hit some more today and we’ll find out tomorrow. He’s cleared but he wants to take some more time,” Rizwan said during a virtual media conference on Saturday.

Pakistan announce unchanged squad for second Test

New Zealand beat Pakistan in the first Test with 27 balls to spare
New Zealand beat Pakistan in the first Test with 27 balls to spare

Pakistan have not made any change to their 15-member squad from the opening Test against the Kiwis in Mount Maunganui. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan will lead the side in Babar Azam’s absence.

Pakistan squad: Mohammad Rizwan (captain, wicketkeeper), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah and Zafar Gohar.

Pakistan are scheduled to play two Tests against South Africa in Karachi (Jan 26-30) and Rawalpindi (Feb 4-8). It’d be intriguing to see if Babar Azam can fully recover for his side’s final two Tests of the ongoing World Test Championship.




Published 02 Jan 2021, 12:47 IST
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