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Pakistan lose captain Babar for NZ T20s

Pakistan’s hopes suffered a big blow on Sunday when captain Babar Azam was ruled out of the three-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand after fracturing his right thumb during a practice session.

The batting mainstay will not be able to attend practice for at least 12 days and he faces a race against time to be fit for the opening match of the two-Test series from December 26.

“I have spoken with Babar and he is sad to miss the T20I series, as he was fully focused and keenly looking forward to the T20Is,” Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said of the second-ranked T20 batsman in the world.

“We have a long season of cricket ahead and we now hope that he regains complete fitness as early as possible so that he can return to competitive cricket.”

Babar’s injury came a day after top-order batsman Imam-ul-Haq fractured his left thumb, also during a practice session.

Pakistan’s T20 vice-captain Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle ahead of the first T20 in Auckland on Friday.

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