Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq’s finger injury has come at a terrible time for Sarfraz Ahmed after his team failed to clinch victory in the Dubai Test against Australia.
Not only did Pakistan come agonisingly close to victory in Dubai against a spirited Australian team before settling for a draw, they also lost opener Imam for the next Test in Abu Dhabi after he fractured his finger while fielding.
The 22-year-old hurt his finger while fielding on Thursday which was later revealed to be a fracture.
“Imam has fractured the fifth finger of his left hand while fielding and has been ruled out of the second Test starting in Abu Dhabi from October 16,” the Pakistan board said in a statement.
Imam scored 76 and 48 in the first Test against the Aussies, becoming one of the most consistent performers of the team in all formats this year.
However, his injury means sidelined opener Fakhar Zaman is in contention to play his maiden Test.
The left-hander was woefully out of form in the Asia Cup and didn’t earn a spot in the playing XI for the first match after being looked at as a near certainty. However, with Pakistan running thin on batting resources, Zaman can be a sensible choice at the top of the order as it would continue the left-right combination with Mohammad Hafeez.
Azhar Ali can also open the innings, but that would mean less solidity in the middle order.
Pakistan opening batsman Imam-Ul-Haq has been ruled out of the second Test against Australia after suffering a finger injury.
The 22-year-old left-hander hurt his finger while fielding in Thursday’s fifth day and after leaving the field, tests showed it was fractured.
“Imam has fractured the fifth finger on his left hand while fielding and has been ruled out of the second Test in Abu Dhabi from October 16,” said a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesperson.
On a Dubai pitch where other fast bowlers have struggled to get much movement either with the old or new ball, Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas has been on top snaring seven wickets across two innings with a promise of more on the fifth and final day of the first Test against Australia.
Australia openers Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja started well in the second innings, as they did in the first, and it was up to Abbas to break their resistance. Not only did he do that, he picked up three wickets with the scoreboard still on 87 to rock the visitors.
The fast bowler is now on 49 wickets in his ninth Test, on the verge of becoming the fastest Pakistan pace bowler to the mark.
“My effort was to pick 50 wickets by this Test. Yasir Shah did it in nine Tests while Waqar Younis, Shabbir Ahmed and Mohammad Asif took 50 in 10 Tests. I want to become the first (Pakistan) fast bowler to 50 Test wickets in nine Tests. Just one wicket remains,” Abbas said after the day’s play.
The 28-year-old has benefited greatly by playing in English conditions. He enjoyed a great county season with Leicestershire, picking up 50 wickets from 10 matches and was man of the series in the drawn Test clashes against the Englishmen. The Sialkot pacer revealed the slow nature of wickets in Leicester this year helped him prepare for the demanding Dubai pitch.
“My time in county cricket with Leicestershire helped me a lot. It was very hot there and I reversed the ball a bit. The ball stayed low there, just like Sindh and Karachi wickets. I played 10 matches there and took 50 wickets,” the right-arm seamer added.
“You need to know exactly what your strengths are. In such conditions I try to bowl line and length and not give runs. When the ball reverses I start to attack. When it comes to pace, I bowled 138 (kph) as my fastest ball. I am happy with that.
“Whatever the conditions, I mould myself. By the grace of God I was man of the series in England. I see myself as the main fast bowler of my Test team. I have been the best performing fast bowler in every Test series I have played.”
ABBAS THE DANGERMAN
Australia batsman Travis Head stated Abbas’s reverse swing will be one of the main threats as the visitors look to save the match as they start day five on 136-3 chasing 462.
“Abbas is in extremely good form. His reverse was class. The pressure was always there, (he) swung the ball away and in. When he has bowled the ball has stopped a fair bit. The scoreboard shut down and that becomes pressure. He will be someone we will have to get through tomorrow,” Head said.