Pakistan lose Babar for NZ T20 series due to fractured thumb

Published December 14, 2020
LOSS of Babar Azam dents Pakistan’s hopes in T20 series
LOSS of Babar Azam dents Pakistan’s hopes in T20 series

QUEENSTOWN: Pakistan suffered a major injury blow ahead of upcoming three-match Twenty20 International series against New Zealand when their captain Babar Azam was ruled out because of a fractured thumb.

The 26-year-old, who is the ranked second to England’s Dawid Malan in the ICC T20 batsmen rankings — sustained the injury on his right thumb during a training session at the Queenstown Events Centre on Sunday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement that Babar will not be able to attend net sessions for at least 12 days after scans confirmed the fracture.

Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq confirmed the injury sustained by Pakistan’s best batsman as well their captain across all three formats.

The Twenty20 series begins at Auckland on Friday, followed by matches at Hamilton (Dec 20) and Napier (Dec 22).

“He was taken to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed the fracture,” Misbah said. “During this period the doctors will continue to monitor Babar’s injury before confirming his participation in the first Test [which starts on Dec 26 at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui].” Misbah said.

The injury to Babar is the second to the Pakistan team after opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq fractured his left thumb, also during a practice session, here on Thursday.

“I have spoken with Babar and he is sad to miss the T20 series,” Misbah added. “We have a long season of cricket ahead and we now hope that he regains complete fitness as early as possible so that he can return to competitive cricket because is our key player.”

There is also a question mark over the fitness of vice-captain Shadab Khan who is battling a groin niggle. A decision on whether leg-spinning all-rounder will compete in the T20 series will be made close to the opening fixture at Eden Park.

The injury is similar to that which kept Shadab out of Pakistan’s recent home series against Zimbabwe.

“The medical team is monitoring Shadab’s injury and we remain optimistic that he will be available for the T20Is,” Misbah said. “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.”

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2020

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