• Azam, ul-Haq out of first Test

    Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq will both miss the opening Test match between Pakistan and New Zealand due to injury.

    The pair was confirmed unavailable for the opening encounter, which gets under way on Saturday at the Bay Oval, after failing to recover from respective thumb injuries.

    Azam will be replaced by Mohammed Rizwan as captain of the team, while the uncapped Imran Butt has been added to Pakistan’s 17-man squad.

    Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said in a statement on Monday that Azam’s absence will be severely felt in the team but that he is looking forward to the opportunity some of the other players will now have to show their worth.

    ‘Although it will be nearly two weeks to Babar’s injury when the first Test starts, it will be hard on him and the team to play him without any net sessions,’ said Misbah.

    ‘I remain confident and optimistic that other players will rise to the occasion in Mount Maunganui and use the opportunity to rise to the occasion and put the disappointment of the T20I series behind them.’

    Pakistan lost their previous Test series 1-0 against England in August but have showed glimpses in the past 12 months of a team that could reach new heights under Azam and Misbah’s guidance.

    ‘Contrary to the T20I side, the Test side appears to be pretty organised and we boast some experienced cricketers, both in batting and bowling departments. With some competitive cricket on the tour now under the belt, I am hoping we will be a better outfit in the longer version of the game,’ the coach added.

    Pakistan squad for first Test: Mohammad Rizwan (capt), 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, Yasir Shah.

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    Andre Huisamen