Khurram-Shahzad. (Photo Source: X/Twitter)
Pakistan were handed a thrashing by Australia in the first Test of their three-match series at the Optus Stadium in Perth last week. The visitors lost by a mammoth 360-run margin and will have to regroup ahead of the second Test in Melbourne, beginning on Tuesday, December 26.
However, Pakistan’s hopes of a turnaround received a massive setback as pacer Khurram Shahzad has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a rib stress fracture and abdominal muscle tear. The 24-year-old experienced discomfort on his left side during the first Test, in which he finished with impressive match figures of 5/128.
Earlier, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had put out a statement saying that after the first Test, Shahzad was taken for an MRI scan. The report suggests that the right-arm seamer has endured a fracture to his left 10th rib. As a result, he won’t be able to take part in the subsequent Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
“PCB will now consult a specialist in Australia after which a final management protocol will be established for the player. He will then return to the NCA in Lahore where he will continue his injury management and rehabilitation,” PCB’s statement read.
Pakistan have had their share of injury woes in recent times. Ace speedster Naseem Shah was unavailable for selection for this series due to an injury. Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed suffered a knee injury during Pakistan’s warm-up game against Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra ahead of the first Test. His participation in the remaining two games is still under cloud.
Pakistan head coach Mohammad Hafeez stated that Abrar’s replacement, left-arm spinner Noman Ali, has suffered a finger injury. Off-spinner Sajid Khan, who came in as cover, could get a game in Melbourne. Meanwhile, it is expected that the tourists will go in for either Hasan Ali or Mohammad Wasim Jr to replace Shahzad in the playing XI for the second Test.
The ‘Men in Green’ will play a two-day game against a Victoria at the Junction Oval, commencing Friday, December 22. This will not be a first-class game and hence, it will allow Pakistan to try out all their players if they need to.