Pakistan’s newly-appointed Test captain, Babar Azam had an extended net session on Friday ahead of the second Test in Christchurch. The Pakistan management is yet to make a final decision about Babar’s inclusion in the playing XI for the second Test of the series which begins on Sunday.
Azam is recovering from a thumb fracture which he sustained during a throwdown net session at the start of the tour. Consequently, he missed the 3-match T20I series and the following first Test in Mount Maunganui.
Babar batted for hours in the nets; however, the team management will not rush the right-hander into the game as it would be a massive risk ahead of the home series against South Africa. Hence, the skipper may be given more time to reach full fitness and could miss the second Test against Kane Williamson’s side.
“Yes, he had nets today. He is still complaining about some pain in his thumb which he uses to grip the bat. He will only play if the team doctor says he is completely recovered from the fracture,” a spokesperson for the national team said from Christchurch.
Other batsmen step up in Babar Azam’s absence
The New Zealand pace bowling quartet of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, and Neil Wagner was expected to steamroll the Pakistan batting line-up in the absence of their talisman. 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 and grit.
Stand-in captain, Mohammad Rizwan, and all-rounder, Faheem Ashraf managed to avoid the follow-on in the first innings; both got out while looking set to reach three figures.
In the second innings, Fawad Alam etched his name in Pakistan’s cricket myth. With his awkward stance, he made a Test century after a decade – 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 is making a return at the age of 35. However, in Babar’s absence, Pakistan has a player in their side whose batting appetite is second to none.
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 bowling attack that is arguably the greatest in the Black Caps’ history.