Racing against time, Babar Azam has a lengthy net session ahead of second Test

KARACHI: The chances of Pakistan captain Babar Azam regaining fitness in time for the second Test against New Zealand have improved as he had a lengthy training session at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Friday.
A spokesperson for the national team said from Christchurch that Babar had a proper nets session with the other players ahead of the game beginning on Sunday.
“Yes he had nets today,” the spokesperson said.
He made it clear that any decision on whether Babar would play the second Test would be taken by the tour selection committee on the advice of the medical panel.
Babar has not played on the tour as yet due to a fractured thumb sustained during a throw down session in Queenstown last month.
Pakistan also lost opener Imam-ul-Haq for the tour with a fractured thumb while allrounder Shadab Khan was ruled out of the Test series after leading Pakistan in the T20 series which they lost 1-2.
Shadab, struggling with a thigh injury, has also been ruled out of the home series against South Africa starting later this month.
A source close to the Pakistan team in New Zealand said that while Babar had started practicing, he was still a bit uncomfortable batting against the red ball.
“He is still complaining about some pain in his thumb which he uses to grip the bat.”
The source confided that the Pakistan team management while keen to have Babar back for the second Test also don’t want to
take a risk with Babar as they want him to be fit in time for the home series against South Africa.
“He will only play if the team doctor says he is completely recovered from the fracture,” the source said.
Babar, who was named the most valuable player of the year and the white ball cricketer of the year by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Friday in their annual awards, has been the team’s most consistent batsman in all three formats the past year.
The Pakistan team coach is also considering shuffling the top order after the continued failure of openers, Shan Masood and
Abid Ali who fell for ducks in the second innings of the first Test at the Bay Oval. Uncapped Imran Butt is being considered to make his debut in Christchurch.
Pakistan lost the first Test after an enthralling final day when New Zealand grabbed victory with just four overs remaining in the match.


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