After Fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, Pakistan Cricket Team suffered another huge blow as spinner Shadab Khan has ruled out of Pakistan’s first Test against South Africa starting on December 26 at Centurion, the PCB announced.
The PCB, however, added that the players will remain with the touring squad to continue with their rehabilitation program as team management is hopeful that the duo will be able to return before the second Test.
“After assessing both Leg-spinner Shadab Khan and Fast Bowler Mohammad Abbas, the Pakistan team management has agreed that the two are not fit for the first Test match against South Africa that begins on December 26 in Centurion,” said a statement by PCB.
“Both Shadab and Abbas have made great progress recently and are improving every day. They will continue with their current Rehabilitation Program as well as their Return to Play Program,” the statement added.
The PCB further said that if all goes according to plan, the team management is positive that both the players will be available for selection for the second Test in Cape Town that begins on January 3.
It is worth mentioning that both the players were included in the squad for the tour despite the fact that they were not fully fit, even at the time of their selection.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur identified the need for his batsmen to post good totals as a key factor in their three-Test series against South Africa, starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
“The one thing we do know is that we can get 20 wickets comfortably. Our challenge is to get to 350-400 (runs),” Arthur said in a pre-tour interview.
It is a refrain that could be echoed by Ottis Gibson, his South African counterpart, ahead of a series which pits two strong sets of bowlers against potentially fragile batting line-ups in a country where conditions usually offer bowlers plenty of encouragement.
The bowling strength of both teams is formidable, despite the lack of what had been anticipated as an intriguing match-up of exceptionally accurate seamers between South Africa´s Vernon Philander and Pakistan´s rising star Mohammad Abbas.
Philander has a broken finger, while Abbas is recovering from a shoulder injury.
Abbas did not bowl in Pakistan´s win against a South African Invitation XI last week but Arthur did not rule him out of contention for Test selection.
Even without Abbas, a pace attack of Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi, backed by the leg-spin of Yasir Shah, will pose a challenge for the home batsmen.
South Africa will also be without fast bowler Lungi Ngidi because of a long-term knee injury but veteran Dale Steyn, needing just one wicket to become his country´s leading wicket-taker, bowled with good pace and rhythm in a recent Twenty20 tournament, as did fellow spearhead Kagiso Rabada.
Duanne Olivier, who will be South Africa´s third seamer, was the top wicket-taker in the T20 league and had match figures of seven for 54 in a losing cause in a franchise match last week.
South Africa (probable): Faf du Plessis (capt), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier
Pakistan (from): Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wkt), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Sundaram Ravi (IND)
TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WIN)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)