NZ vs PAK: Babar, Imam ruled out of first Test
Pakistan have named a 17-member squad for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand, starting December 26. Captain Babar Azam and opener Imam-ul-Haq have been ruled out of the first Test in Mount Maunganui. Notably, wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan will lead the side in Babar's absence, thereby becoming the 33rd Test captain of Pakistan. Here is more on the same.
Babar had fractured his right thumb during a training session in Queenstown last week, which ruled him out of the T20I series. Meanwhile, Imam sustained a similar fracture while training. A Pakistan Cricket Board release revealed that the team's medical staff is closely monitoring their progress, while a decision on their participation in the second Test will be taken soon.
Test regulars Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, and Yasir Shah, return to the fold. Meanwhile, white-ball specialists Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez will not be in action, following the Napier T20I. Imad will travel to Australia for his Big Bash League assignment, while Hafeez will return back to Pakistan.
The selection committee has also named the uncapped Imran Butt from Balochistan in the squad. The 24-year-old racked up most runs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy last year with 934 runs at an average of over 62.26, including 4 tons and 3 fifties.
Having lost the first two T20Is, Pakistan will aim to survive a clean sweep in the final game. They were completely outplayed by Kiwis in the two T20Is. The conditions will certainly get trickier in the two-match Test series. As per the schedule, Mount Maunganui will host the opening Test from December 26-30. Besides, the following Test will be played in Christchurch (January 3-7).
A look at Pakistan's squad for Test series: Mohammad Rizwan (captain for 1st Test), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, and Yasir Shah.