Pakistan cricket captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of his team's T20 series against New Zealand with a broken thumb.
The world's second-ranked T20 batsman suffered a broken thumb at training in Queenstown on Sunday and will not be able to bat for at least 12 days, sidelining him for the series opener at Auckland on Friday, and subsequent matches at Hamilton (December 20) and Napier (December 22).
Babar joins teammate Imam-ul-Haq, who broke his left thumb at training on Saturday. Imam was not part of the limited-overs squad, but must now sit out the four-day match against NZ A, part of the build-up towards the first test.
Vice-captain Shadab Khan is also doubtful for the T20 opener with a groin niggle.
"Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport," says Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
"While it is hugely disappointing to lose a player of Babar Azam's calibre for the T20s, this opens up opportunities for the other highly talented and exciting players to step up, understand their responsibilities and try to prove that the Pakistan side is a complete package."
I have spoken with Babar and he is sad to miss the T20 series, as he was fully focused and keenly looking forward to the T20s. 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."
Misbah insists his medical team will not risk Shadab, if they feel he won't be 100 percent fit for the Auckland match.
The Pakistanis have already endured a tough build-up to their series against the Blackcaps, with several of their party testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival and struggling to adapt to New Zealand's quarantine protocols.
Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20s
Shadab Khan (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir and Wahab Riaz
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