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By Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Dec 13 (APP): Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of New Zealand T20Is after suffering a fracture in his right thumb during today’s, Sunday morning’s practice session.

A spokesman of the Pakistan Cricket said here that 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 18, 20 and 22 December T20Is to be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Napier, respectively.

During this period, the doctors will continue to monitor Babar’s injury before confirming his participation in the first Test, which starts at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, on 26 December, he said.

“Babar suffered the injury a day after Imam-ul-Haq had fractured his left thumb also during a throw-down session. Imam had also been advised a 12-day rest, which confirmed his non-availability for the Pakistan Shaheens’ four-day match against New Zealand ‘A’, which starts in Whangarei on Thursday, December 17.

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“As with Babar, the doctors will continue to monitor Imam’s injury before confirming his participation in the first Test.

“Pakistan T20I vice-captain Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle, which limited his participation in Sunday’s net sessions to batting only. 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”.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said : “Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport and while it is hugely disappointing to lose a player of Babar Azam’s calibre for the T20Is, 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 T20I series as he was fully focused and keenly looking forward to the T20Is. 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.

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“The medical team is monitoring Shadab Khan’s groin 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.”

Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20Is:
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. Babar Azam (withdrawn due to injury)

Pakistan Shaheens for New Zealand ‘A’ four-day match:
Rohail Nazir (captain), Abid Ali, Amad Butt, Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar and Zeeshan Malik. Imam-ul-Haq (withdrawn due to injury)