Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the second Test against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch starting Jan 3 due to slight pain in his thumb, the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a media release on Saturday.
Babar, 26, had participated in a training session on Friday but the team's management opted to not include him in the second Test after he reported slight pain in his thumb, to avoid any risk of further injury. Mohammad Rizwan has been appointed the captain in his place.
Babar was also similarly ruled out of the first Test due to a fractured thumb and also had to sit out the three-match Twenty20 International series.
“We have seen improvement in Babar Azam's injury but he is yet to fully recover. He is our captain and the most important batsman in the lineup, so we do not want to take any risk," said Dr Sohail Saleem, the appointed doctor for the Pakistan cricket team.
He said that the medical team will continue to monitor Babar's injury and is "constantly reviewing" it. Saleem said he is optimistic that the Pakistan captain will be available for the home series against South Africa.
Similarly, the pressure is also on for the New Zealand cricket team. There is a lot at stake for New Zealand in the second Test where they need to win to have a chance of making the World Test Championship final at Lords in June.
New Zealand are vying with Australia, India and England to make the final two. A draw or better will confirm New Zealand as number one in the world rankings, extend their unbeaten home record to 17 Tests and a win will see New Zealand win six consecutive Tests for the first time.
Pakistan squad for the second Test against New Zealand:
Mohammad Rizwan (captain), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah and Zafar Gohar
With input from AFP