KARACHI: Opener Ahmed Shehzad, who was keen to play in the third Test against New Zealand, has said that he has been advised against playing by specialists after a recent checkup.
Shehzad was struck by a bouncer from Corey Anderson in the first Test and suffered a hairline fracture on his cheekbone, which forced him to return home.
But once back in Pakistan, the right-hander was hopeful that he will make a comeback earlier than expected. However, that has not proven to be the case.
“I tried my best to recover quickly but it wasn’t meant to be and the doctors have asked me to not take a risk,” Shehzad told The Express Tribune. “I’ve been told that it could be really dangerous for me taking a chance with this injury. I was eager to return for the third Test because I’ve been in tremendous form this year and did not want to lose it while out on the sidelines.”
Shehzad has scored three centuries and two half-centuries in only eight Tests at a healthy average of 47.86. The 22-year-old is the only Pakistani to score centuries in all three formats of the game and the youngster is hungry for more runs, especially with the World Cup around the corner. “My focus will now be towards recovering ahead of the T20 and ODI series because they will be important going into the 2015 World Cup,” said Shehzad. “The team is peaking at the right moment.”
According to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) General Manager of Sports Medicine Dr Sohail Saleem, Shehzad will have to proceed with caution but does not require surgery. “It has been decided that he will be treated conservatively for this injury as surgery is required only for cosmetic purposes in such cases,” said Saleem. “A review has been planned on Monday [tomorrow]. He has been advised to avoid contact sports for a period of six weeks but he can start his physical workout from next week.”
The PCB further added that Sohaib Maqsood has been ruled out of the T20Is and ODIs against New Zealand due to a wrist fracture.
However, there is good news for Pakistan as well, as Junaid Khan’s rehabilitation seems to be going well and the left-armer has resumed training.
Meanwhile, Wahab Riaz will appear for a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy before being considered for selection after he has seemingly recovered from his knee injury.
Muhammad Hafeez has also recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out for the second Test and will be in contention for the third Test. Hafeez will come directly to the UAE from England, where he needs to undergo testing on his bowling action after he was called up by the umpires for having a suspect action.
Shehzad believes Pakistan’s batting future is bright
The Men in Green are known for their bowling abilities, but Shehzad believes that the batting now has the capability to win matches as well. “It’s not just our bowling anymore which is performing or winning matches for Pakistan,” he said. “In the last 12 months, the batsmen have played an equally important role and it’s good that everyone in the team is performing.”
Pakistan have been heavily dependent on their senior batsmen Younus Khan and Misbahul Haq for the last few years but the likes of Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed, Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have also started to share the run-scoring burden in recent times, while Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah have done well in the absence of Saeed Ajmal, which according to the opener is a good sign for the future.
“The transition phase for every team is important and we youngsters are learning from our seniors and delivering as well, which is a very positive sign for the future of Pakistan cricket,” added Shehzad.
Test rankings: Sarfraz jumps to career-best 18th position
Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed continues to make giant strides in the ICC Test batsmen rankings as he has climbed 13 places into a career-best 18th position following scores of 112 and 24 not out against New Zealand.
Younus lost a place and is now down into sixth while Misbah is at eighth. Asad Shafiq has also moved up a place to 21st, while Azhar Ali maintains his 17th rank.
Among the bowlers, Babar gained three places and is now at 28th, while Yasir has moved up five places to 30th.
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