Pakistan captain Babar Azam ruled out of New Zealand T20Is after suffering a fracture in his right thumb during Sunday morning’s practice session.
World’s second-ranked T20I batsman suffered the injury during a throw-down session, following which he was taken to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed the fracture.
As such, Babar will be unable to attend nets for, at least, 12 days, meaning he will not be available for the December 18, 20 and 22 T20Is to be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Napier, respectively.
Meanwhile, Pakistan T20I vice-captain Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle. He had missed the Zimbabwe T20Is due to a similar injury and decision on his participation in the Auckland T20I will be made closer to the match.
In case Shadab Khan remains unfit, the team management is considering the names of Mohammad Rizwan, who led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to National T20 Cup title, All-rounder Imad Wasim, who won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season five with Karachi Kings, and veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez for the captaincy role.
According to sources, Pakistan’s former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed’s name is not under consideration for captaincy role. It would be blessing in disguise if he gets a place in the Playing XI.
National team head coach Misbah-ul-Haq is hopeful that Pakistan T20I vice-captain Shadab Khan will regain full match fitness ahead of the first T20I against New Zealand at Auckland.
“The medical team is monitoring his niggle and we remain optimistic that he will be available for the T20Is, but we will neither risk him nor the team’s chances if we think he needs a few more days to be back to his complete fitness,” Misbah said in a statement released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).