Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been withdrawn from the T20I squad for the upcoming series against New Zealand after enduring a fracture in his right thumb during Sunday's practice session.
Babar suffered the injury while facing throw-downs prompting him to be taken to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed the fracture.
The injury blow leaves a question mark on Babar's availability for the Test encounters scheduled to begin on December 26 as he has been advised to avoid training for the next 12 days.
"Babar will be unable to attend nets for, at least, 12 days, meaning he will not be available for the 18, 20 and 22 December T20Is to be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Napier, respectively," the PCB stated in its press release.
"During this period, the doctors will continue to monitor Babar’s injury before confirming his participation in the first Test, which starts at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, on 26 December."
With Babar out of action for the T20Is, Pakistan face a bit of a leadership conundrum since white-ball vice-captain Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle that has limited his participation in net sessions.
The decision on the leg-spinner's inclusion in the final playing XI for the first T20I will be made closer to the match.
“The medical team is monitoring Shadab Khan’s groin niggle and we remain optimistic that he will be available for the T20Is, but we will neither risk him nor the team’s chances if we think he needs a few more days to be back to his complete fitness," noted Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
Babar's absence might pave the way for Pakistan to try out the young opening pair of Haider Ali and Abdullah Shafique at the top of the order while Hussain Talat could break into the side following his prolific run in the domestic circuit.
Nevertheless, Babar's unavailability is an irreparable loss to the T20I unit as he boasts the greatest average in the format for any batsman with a minimum of 20 innings.
“Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport and while it is hugely disappointing to lose a player of Babar Azam’s calibre for the T20Is, this opens up opportunities for the other highly talented and exciting players to step-up, understand their responsibilities and try to prove that the Pakistan side is a complete package," said Misbah.
Shadab Khan (capt), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz