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Babar Azam ruled out of Pakistan’s second Test as New Zealand eye top spot

After seven straight home Test series triumphs, New Zealand will be strong favourites to secure another against a Pakistan side that lost the first Test by 101 runs at Mount Maunganui.

By: Reuters | Updated: January 2, 2021 1:45:49 pm
Babar Azam trained on Friday but felt some pain in his thumb. (File)

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been ruled out of the second and final Test against New Zealand in Christchurch after failing to recover sufficiently from a right thumb fracture, the country’s cricket board said on Saturday.

Babar, 26, sustained the injury during a practice session in Queenstown and has now missed the three-match Twenty20 series and the two Tests.

Mohammad Rizwan will continue to lead the touring side, who lost the opening Test in Mount Maunganui by 101 runs.

“We have seen improvement in Babar Azam’s injury but he is yet to fully recover. He is our captain and the most important batsman in the lineup, so we do not want to take any risk,” said Dr Sohail Saleem, the appointed doctor for the Pakistan cricket team.

Pakistan Test Squad: Mohammad Rizwan (c), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar

New Zealand eye top spot in second Pakistan Test

New Zealand vs Pakistan, NZ vs PAK, NZ PAK test match, NZ PAK test score, New Zealand Test win, Indian Express New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner celebrates with his teammates after taking a catch. (AP)

New Zealand will rise to the top of the world rankings for the first time, replacing Australia, if they avoid defeat against Pakistan in the second Test in Christchurch and wrap up their two-match series.

After seven straight home Test series triumphs, New Zealand will be strong favourites to secure another against a Pakistan side that showed great fight at Mount Maunganui but still lost the first Test by 101 runs.

A victory at Hagley Oval to seal a 2-0 series sweep would also push the Black Caps firmly into contention for one of two berths in June’s inaugural World Test Championship final at Lord’s.

Under the leadership of Kane Williamson, who returned to the top of the world Test batting rankings after his 23rd career century at Bay Oval, the Blacks Caps have developed into possibly the most consistent outfit in the Test game.

They will, however, need to find a replacement for pace bowler Neil Wagner, who battled through the pain of two broken toes to finish the first Test but will miss the second.

Matt Henry, who was brought into the squad after recovering from a hand injury, is likely to get the nod as a like-for-like replacement with batting all-rounder Daryl Mitchell another option.

A 165-run partnership between Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan stalled New Zealand’s charge to victory at Mount Maunganui and Pakistan will look to draw on that fighting spirit on another green track.

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