Injured pacer Khurram out of Australia series

Published December 22, 2023
PAKISTAN pacer Hasan Ali bowls during a net practice session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.—courtesy PCB
PAKISTAN pacer Hasan Ali bowls during a net practice session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.—courtesy PCB

MELBOURNE: Khurram Shahzad’s encouraging start to Test cricket has been nipped in the bud after the Pakistan pacer was ruled out of the rest of the Australia series due to a broken rib and abdominal tear.

The 24-year-old, who took five wickets on debut in the 360-run loss to the hosts in Perth, had complained of discomfort in his left side during the series-opener and was taken for a scan.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it had found a stress fracture in a left rib along with the muscle tear.

“PCB will now consult a specialist in Australia after which a final management protocol will be established for the player,” the PCB said in a statement. “He will then return to Lahore, where he will continue his injury management and rehabilitation.”

Khurram impressed on his debut, finishing with match figures of 5-128, removing Steve Smith twice.

Captain Shan Masood’s side are already depleted in attack, with injured quick Naseem Shah sidelined and Haris Rauf having opted out of the series to play in Australia’s T20 Big Bash League.

Spinner Abrar Ahmed also missed the Perth Test with leg discomfort, but could return for the second match in Melbourne that begins December 26. The visitors, who have not won a Test in Australia since 1995, have Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim in their squad as potential replacements for Khurram.

Pakistan batter Saud Shakeel said Khurram’s injury was a sad occurrence but that should also provide an opportunity to pacers waiting on the bench.

“He bowled really well, he had a big job coming here. I’m really sad for him that he got injured,” Saud told reporters on Thursday.

“That’s part of the game. We have a couple of other bowlers as well – Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali – and they can get good wickets in this Melbourne Test.”

Given that their attack was low on experience, Pakistan’s performance with the ball was decent in the Perth Test, at least as compared to how they batted.

Occupying the crease for almost equal number of overs that Australia did, Pakistan found themselves in a shell and failed to take the attack against the seasoned likes of Australian pacers captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

“We just need to be more positive with our batting approach and just play some attacking shots to get runs and put them under pressure,” said Saud, who made 28 and 24 in the first Test.But Pakistan’s poor batting show wasn’t only down to the high quality of the Australian bowlers. It was also impacted by the cracks opening up on the fourth-day pitch at the Perth Stadium and the gulf of experience between the two sides didn’t help as well.

“In the second innings in Perth, the cracks opened a little and it was slightly difficult to bat on that fourth day,” Saud said. “They bowled well … but the cracks played a bit of a role.The Karachi-born southpaw believed that the Melbourne surface will act differently to that of Perth.

“The Perth pitch has got the maximum bounce. I think this pitch will suit us … The matches in Melbourne I’ve seen, it’s not (as) hard to bat on,” Saud noted.

“When you come to Australia they’ve got good experience; they have a quality attack.

“When you’re playing in their home conditions it’s more of a mental challenge than physical. As a team … we have to go out there and score runs.”.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2023

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