Pakistan’s all-format captain Babar Azam has fractured his right thumb in training on Sunday and has subsequently been ruled out of action for 12 days, which means that the Pakistan skipper will not be available to play the three Twenty20 Internationals against the host New Zealand, starting from December 18.
As per Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) press release, Azam picked up the injury while facing throwdowns. He was then taken to a hospital in Queenstown where X-rays revealed the extent of the damage, prompting a period of rest and rehabilitation.
“During this period, the doctors will continue to monitor Babar’s injury before confirming his participation in the first Test, which starts at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, on 26 December,” the PCB release said.
Azam’s absence in the T20Is will be a major blow for the visiting side as he is No.2 ranked batsman in T20Is and had come into the tour with several good scores behind him.
Only a month ago he led his PSL team, the Karachi Kings, to their first-ever title with half-centuries in both qualifier one and the final. He was Man of the Match both times and, prior to that, he walloped Zimbabwe for a couple of half-centuries to rack up a T20 average of 57.53 and a strike-rate of 139 in since August 2020.
After witnessing his performance in PSL, he was assigned as the captain of all the three formats and for a long time.
“Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport and while it is hugely disappointing to lose a player of Babar Azam’s calibre for the T20Is, this opens up opportunities for the other highly talented and exciting players to step-up,” Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq said.
However, since Azam plays at the top of the order, they may prefer to use Mohammad Hafeez in that position and look for a new lower-order hitter to round out the XI.