Azam Khan Set to Miss T20I Series Against New Zealand Due to Injury

In a significant blow to Pakistan’s cricket team, emerging wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan has been ruled out of the ongoing five-match T20I series against New Zealand. The 25-year-old athlete has sustained a grade one tear in his right calf muscle, necessitating a 10-day rest period and subsequent rehabilitation. According to a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) statement, Azam is required to undergo his recovery phase at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore, where he will be under the close supervision of the PCB medical panel.

This injury not only sidelines Azam for the New Zealand series but also disrupts Pakistan’s preparatory plans for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup scheduled for June. Azam, known for his vigorous hitting ability, was a crucial part of the team’s strategy for the prestigious tournament set to unfold in the USA and the Caribbean. The PCB had included him in the ongoing series against the Blackcaps particularly to harness his potential for the global event.

The initial discomfort surfaced while Azam was practicing in a net session at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, just ahead of the first T20I match. Following the discomfort, further assessments confirmed the extent of the injury. Prior to this setback, Azam had participated in a 14-day fitness camp organized at Kakul, Abbottabad, in collaboration with the Pakistan Army. This camp aimed to boost the players’ physical conditioning in preparation for the high-intensity challenges expected in the upcoming bilateral series and the World Cup.

Azam’s performance in the recent Pakistan Super League (PSL) season 9, though falling slightly short in average runs, showcased his capabilities as a power hitter. He managed to score 226 runs in 10 innings at an average of 25.11, but his striking rate of 171.21 stood out as the highest among the top 20 run-scorers of the season.

With Azam sidelined, the Pakistan team will continue the series with the following squad under the leadership of Babar Azam: Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Usman Khan, Irfan Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir, Abrar Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan, and Abbas Afridi, alongside a robust support staff including Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Yousuf, Mansoor Rana, and Wahab Riaz.

The loss of Azam is seen as a considerable hindrance to Pakistan’s batting lineup, particularly in the shorter format where his explosive batting could turn the tide in crucial games. As the team management reconsiders its composition and strategy for the T20 World Cup, the focus will also intensively turn towards the rehabilitation and swift recovery of this young power hitter, whose skills are deemed indispensable for Pakistan’s aspirations on the world stage. Further updates on Azam’s recovery and readiness for the T20 World Cup will be anticipated with keen interest by fans and officials alike.

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