Pakistan skipper Babar Azam has been ruled out of the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand after fracturing his right thumb during practice.
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The No.2 ranked batsman in the MRF ICC Men's T20I Batting Rankings, Babar suffered the injury during a throwdown session. He was taken to a local hospital that confirmed a fracture.
The T20I series begins on 18 December in Auckland and runs till 22 December. Babar will not be available for any of these matches with him expected to be out for nearly two weeks.
Shadab Khan, who was the vice-captain, will step in to lead the side. However, Shadab himself is being monitored as he carries a groin niggle. His availability for the first game in Auckland will be assessed close to the match. Shadab had missed the series against Zimbabwe at home with a similar injury.
Babar, meanwhile, is expected to be fit for the Test series that begins on Boxing Day at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq was hopeful that Babar's injury would open up opportunities for someone on the sidelines to step up.
“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," he said.
"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.
"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."
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