Setback for Pakistan as Babar Azam is ruled out of series due to fractured wrist

Waseem Ahmed 26/05/2018
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Pakistan suffered a big blow as batsman Babar Azam was ruled out of the two-match Test series due to a fractured wrist.

Pakistan took control of the first Test against England with in-form batsman Azam hitting 68 as Pakistan reached stumps on 350 for eight – a lead of 166 runs.

However, Azam was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the wrist by England all-rounder Ben Stokes.

The 23-year-old walked off the field in pain as on-field treatment failed to help him grip the bat.

Babar was taken to a hospital for a scan which confirmed a fracture. He will not take the field at Lord’s or participate in the second Test at Headingley.

“We took him for a precautionary X-ray which unfortunately confirmed a fractured left wrist,” Pakistan physiotherapist Cliff Deacon said.

“It normally takes four to six weeks to heal so we will assess him with further X-rays.”

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Babar Azam leads the way as Pakistan show England how it's done to take control of Lord's Test

David Clough 25/05/2018
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Babar Azam hit a fifty before he was forced to retire hurt.

England paid a heavy price for their own faulty batting and poor fielding as Pakistan demonstrated how it should be done on day two of the first Test at Lord’s.

Babar Azam top-scored with 68 before having to retire hurt, and the tourists duly put themselves in a position surely beyond even their own best hopes when Joe Root had chosen to bat first on Thursday morning.

After Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Shadab Khan also reached 50, Pakistan closed 166 in front on 350 for eight and apparently on course to inflict England’s sixth defeat in their last eight Tests.

Root’s men bowled acceptably – Ben Stokes (three for 73) the pick and James Anderson (three for 82) worthy of mention for an impressive spell from the Nursery End in the early afternoon – but after batting so poorly, England fielded no better.

It was a sedate process, but one-way traffic nonetheless, as Pakistan lost four wickets for the addition of 177 runs in the first two sessions.

Heavy cloud cover, as on the first morning, offered the prospect of helpful bowling conditions. Anderson and Stuart Broad did not waste them, but made no headway either against Haris Sohail and Azhar.

The second-wicket pair had taken their stand to 75 when Mark Wood, bowling mostly short to a packed leg-side field, struck with one pitched slightly further up and good enough to take Sohail’s edge.

After then completing his hard-working half-century from 133 balls, Azhar got no further. The returning Anderson had him lbw pushing forward and was then unfortunate not to add to his tally.

Babar escaped a half-chance low to Alastair Cook’s right at slip on 10, and then Shafiq (59) edged high and wide of the cordon for four.

He passed his half-century with a deliberate upper-cut over the slips off Wood for his sixth four to add to a slog-swept six off debutant Dom Bess.

Stokes ended the fourth-wicket partnership on 84 as he shifted Shafiq with a brute of a short ball, fenced to slip, the next delivery after the same batsman had survived a tough diving chance to Jos Buttler at gully.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s departure to the last ball before tea was an infuriating moment for the tourists. The captain took on the hook – despite England’s leg-side catchers and the imminence of the second new ball – skying one fine to Wood off Stokes.

Stokes was emerging as England’s most dangerous bowler and after being handed the second new ball, he hit Babar on the left wrist with a nasty short one.

After lengthy treatment, Pakistan’s mainstay retired hurt, but youngsters Shadab (52) and Faheem Ashraf eased the tourists into a three-figure lead.

They batted with increasing confidence to add to England’s woes, which were encapsulated in one brief but miserable passage of play for the hosts.

Cook and Jonny Bairstow waved through an Ashraf edge off Wood which flew at catchable height between them, and the left-hander clubbed a pull for another boundary next ball.

Then at the other end, England’s frazzled state extended to a regulation drop by Cook off Anderson at slip to reprieve Shadab on 30.

Anderson had Ashraf edging on to his stumps in his next over, the first of his two late wickets, and Stokes bounced out Shadab just after his half-century. But it all had the worrying appearance of too little much too late for England.

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ICC crackdown on Pakistan smartwatches puts spotlight on Sunrisers' Siddarth Kaul and Ireland's Boyd Rankin

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Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer Siddharth Kaul wearing a smartwatch. Image: BCCI.

Pakistan were forced to give up wearing smartwatches after being ordered to do so by the ICC after the opening day’s play of the first Test against England at Lord’s.

Pakistan batsmen Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam were seen wearing smartwatches, which did not sit well with ICC’s anti-corruption unit. Even though there was no allegation of any wrongdoing, the message sent by the ICC was that a smartwatch can be used to communicate during a match.

An ICC spokesperson was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as saying: “Apple watches in any way connected to a phone/WiFi or in any way capable of receiving communication such as messages, are not allowed. In effect, it is considered a phone unless ‘disabled’ and just a watch.”

Players use other wearable smart devices that helps them keep a log of their daily workout.

Ireland pacer Boyd Rankin (r).

Ireland pacer Boyd Rankin (r).

The ICC’s crackdown on smartwatches has put the focus on two other cricketers who have been seen wearing what appear to be similar smartwatches.

In the IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad fast bowler Siddarth Kaul has worn a smartwatch throughout the tournament while in Ireland’s inaugural Test against Pakistan in Dublin, fast bowler Boyd Rankin was photographed wearing a similar device.

If such devices are not allowed, it will be interesting if the said players’ devices were checked and whether they were given clearance to use them. Since the IPL is run under the aegis of BCCI, the Indian board’s anti-corruption unit is the final authority on such matters while during the Ireland Test it was the ICC.

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