Injured Hafeez in doubt for 2nd test against NZ
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez is struggling with a hamstring injury which may force Pakistan to try out a new left-handed opening pair in the second test against New Zealand, starting Monday.
“We have lots of concerns about Hafeez’s injury,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said. “Maybe we decide at the last moment how he feels and let’s see what the physio says.”
Hafeez pulled his hamstring during an unbeaten 101 in the second innings of the first test which Pakistan won by 248 runs to lead the three-match series.
Match officials reported off-spinner Hafeez’s bowling action soon after the first test, but Misbah said he wanted to include the all-rounder purely on his batting form.
“We are not thinking about his bowling action,” Misbah said. “We also want him in the side as a batsman, so we are really concerned how his injury goes.”
Pakistan’s other inform opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad has already been ruled out of the series after fracturing his skull when he was hit by a short pitched delivery from Corey Anderson during his career-best eight-hour knock of 176 in the first test.
That leaves backup openers in Shan Masood, who has played two tests for Pakistan, and Taufiq Umar.
Misbah hopes both left-handers would provide Pakistan solid starts.
“I think the kind of confidence the team has, we hope they will continue that,” Misbah said.
Pakistan lost only five wickets in the first test after declarations at 566-3 and 175-2 with Misbah scoring his third successive century and Younis Khan also making four hundreds in his last six test knocks.
“When you have runs on the board, you have already seen that inexperienced bowlers can do wonders for you,” Misbah said.
The inexperienced spinning duo of Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah grabbed nine wickets between them at Abu Dhabi, and left-arm fast bowler Rahat Ali won the man of the match award with a haul of six wickets from his superb reverse swing bowling.
While Misbah was not worried about winning his fourth successive toss in the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum wants to bat first on another slow and turning wicket of Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
“It’s a pretty important toss, no doubt,” McCullum said.
New Zealand’s opening batsman Tom Latham scored his maiden test century and Ish Sodhi made a valiant half century in the second innings which delayed Pakistan’s victory in an otherwise lackluster batting performance in the first test.
“I am confident that the guys will step up in this game and we’ll make some adjustments and obviously put up a better performance,” McCullum said.