NZ vs PAK 1st T20: Shadab Khan named skipper in absence of Babar Azam as Pakistan announces 15-member squad

Pakistan team for 1st T20 vs NZ: Pakistan named Shadab Khan skipper for injured Babar Azam as they announced a 15-member squad for the first T20I against New Zealand in Auckland.

Shadab Khan will be taking over the captaincy reins in absence of regular skipper Babar Azam who has been ruled out of the tour over a thumb fracture.

Shadab said that leading the Green Caps is an honour for him but the absence of the talisman batsman will be felt.

Pakistan hit by injury wave

Pakistan have been hit by a severe injury wave. First, Fakhar Zaman could not board the flight to New Zealand as he showed COVID-19 symptoms despite returning a negative test. Imam-ul-Haq, who was expected to take his place at the top of the order, then fractured his left thumb.

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Just days before the beginning of this series, it came as a huge jolt for Pakistan when skipper Babar Azam was ruled out of the T20I series after injuring his right thumb. The injury was sustained during a throwdown session and the X-rays confirmed a fracture which ruled Azam out of the T20I series and also put him in doubt for the tests.

If that was not enough, vice-captain and leg spin bowling all-rounder Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle. After initially participating in the net sessions only as a batsman, Shadab has started bowling and is likely to lead the side.

Hafeez and Haider to open for Pakistan?

In the absence of regular openers Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam and an injury to Imam-ul-Haq as well, it looks likely that Mohammad Hafeez and Haider Ali will open the batting for Pakistan. Shadab Khan is likely to be fit in time for the first T20I.

Despite leggie Usman Qadir having a brilliant series against Zimbabwe, Imad Wasim will play ahead of the leg spinner. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf is likely to get a nod and will form the pace attack alongside Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi and Wahab Riaz.

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