Pakistan skipper Babar Azam and opener Imam-ul-Haq have been ruled out of the first Test against the black caps starting on December 26 in Mount Maunganui, the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement on Monday.
After suffering the thumb fracture, the 28-year-old was ruled out of the T20I series against kiwis. He suffered the injury while practising in the net at Queenstown last week. He is currently under observation of medical staff. However, his participation in the next Test, beginning in Christchurch on January 3, will be made, as per the condition.
Pakistan Coach Misbah-ul-Haq said that it will be hard for Azam to play without any net session.
“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,” Misbah-ul-Haq said in a statement.
In Babar’s absence, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan will lead the side, becoming the 33rd captain to lead Pakistan in the Test format. Rizwan was made the vice-captain at the start of the tour.
Pakistan has also included batsman Imran Butt in the 17-player squad for the first Test. Butt has been picked on the basis of a prolific domestic and travelled with the team to New Zealand after doing well in the 2019-20 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 934 runs at an average of over 62 with four centuries and three half-centuries.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq had fractured his left thumb during the training sessions in Queenstown last week and has also not recovered in time for the first Test.
Misbah-ul-Haq on Pakistan’s T20I Series Loss
“It is disappointing to lose the T20I series against a well-settled New Zealand side, who utilised their resources and conditions to their advantage. We need to upskill and improve our individual and team performances, including in Tuesday’s match, and the sooner we get these sorted, the better it will be in term of player confidences, and team results as 2021 will not be any easier as we have two major events,” said Misbah-ul-Haq as quoted by Pakistan Cricket Board.
Pakistan squad for Tests: 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, Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah. (Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq not available for the first Test)