Pakistan’s talismanic captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the second one Test against New Zealand starting in Christchurch on Sunday as he struggles to triumph over a broken thumb. The announcement from team doctor Sohail Saleem came just hours after stand-in captain Mohammad Rizwan said Azam had batted polite in the nets but wanted more practice time before being confirmed in the starting XI. Azam has not played on the tour since breaking a thumb all through a practice session soon after completing a Covid-enforced 14-day quarantine on arrival in New Zealand. “We have seen an improvement in Babar Azam’s injury but he’s yet to fully get better,” Saleem said.
“He’s our captain and a very powerful batsman in our lineup so we don’t need to take any risk.”
Saleem said the team was once “hopeful” he’ll be to be had for Pakistan’s upcoming home series against South Africa.
Rizwan described Babar as Pakistan’s Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain whose first-innings century laid the foundation for their 101-run victory in the first Test.
“Williamson batted very solid… Babar Azam has the same role in our team. The result may have been different whether Babar was once playing,” he said.
In a tense finish, New Zealand won the first Test on Wednesday with 27 balls to spare, and Williamson acknowledged Azam would have strengthened Pakistan.
“He is some of the best players on the earth. He obviously adds a lot,” Williamson said.
“We saw how challenging it is against this Pakistan side. You add Babar to that and it strengthens it.”
There’s a lot at stake for New Zealand in the second one Test, where they wish to win to have a chance of making the World Test Championship last at Lords in June.
New Zealand are vying with Australia, India and England to make the last two.
A draw or better will confirm New Zealand as number one on the earth rankings, extending their unbeaten home record to 17 Tests.
Victory will see New Zealand win six consecutive Tests for the first time.
But Williamson, newly named the number 1 batsman on the earth, said accolades and rankings were not a focus.
“You realize these are very difficult things to regulate and these rankings sort of move on a daily basis,” Williamson said, adding there was once something special approximately the current Black Caps squad.
“Taking a look back, we’ve at all times been competitive at times but certainly not at all times and the team’s come a long way on the subject of bringing an element of consistency.”
Occasional showers disrupted practice in Christchurch on Saturday, but the forecast is for fine weather all the way through the Test.
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