Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam is unlikely to feature in the second Test against New Zealand as he is still recovering from a thumb fracture which he sustained during a net session at the start of the tour. Consequently, Babar Azam missed the 3-match T20I series and the following first Test in Mount Maunganui.
The final decision about Babar’s inclusion in the playing XI for the second Test in Christchurch will be taken after Thursday and Friday’s practice sessions. Only if the right-hander is comfortable facing the bowlers in the nets, then he may take the field in Christchurch.
However, according to the news website ‘Cricket Pakistan’, the team management does not want to take any risk ahead of the home series against South Africa. Hence, Babar’s may be allowed more time to reach full fitness and could miss the second Test against Kane Williamson’s side.
Babar Azam’s absence felt in the batting order; however other batsmen stepped up
In the absence of Babar Azam, it was expected that the New Zealand pace bowling quartet – Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, and Neil Wagner – will roll over the Pakistan line-up. However, the visitors managed to stretch the game to the final half an hour of the fifth day- other batsmen stood up and batted with patience in absence of their talismanic skipper.
While Pakistan was dismissed for 239 in the first innings, stand-in captain, Mohammad Rizwan, and all-rounder, Faheem Ashraf managed to avoid the follow-on- both got out while looking set to reach three figures.
It was in the second innings where Fawad Alam scripted his name in Pakistan cricket’s folklore. With his crab-like stance, he made a Test century after 10 years- but not before topping every run-scoring chart in Pakistan’s domestic circuit. It is no doubt that Fawad’s potential will always remain unfulfilled as he making a return at the age of 35, however, in Babar’s absence, Pakistan has a player with a batting appetite that is second to none in their side.
Mohammad Rizwan, Abid Ali, and Azhar Ali played gritty knocks; Shan Masood recently scored a ton in England. Apart from the form of Haris Sohail, Pakistan will be mighty proud of their batting performances against a New Zealand bowling attack which is arguably their greatest.