LAHORE: After leg spin prodigy Yasir Shah, Pakistan opener Shan Masood has also reportedly fallen to an injury and is expected to miss the team’s tour of Ireland, England, and Scotland which is set to begin later this month.
The initial camp for the Pakistan test team ahead of the April 11 to April 15 tour is set to go ahead without the test opener and leg-spinner.
The fresh blow comes only a day after an MRI scan confirmed fears that Yasir Shah had suffered a stress fracture which would require intensive rehabilitation. While Yasir is currently undergoing a further assessment at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said that he will not be going through the fitness tests that other injured players are going through but he will also not be a part of England’s tour.
The injury suffered by Shan Masood has presented Pakistan with both an opportunity and a problem. Earlier, captain Sarfraz Ahmed had hinted that former captain and makeshift opener Azhar Ali was being considered to open the batting during the tour and that Shan Masood Sami Aslam and Fakhar Zaman were being considered for the second slot. Now, the skipper seemingly finds himself with his options narrowed down by fate.
However, the earlier hint at Azhar Ali filling in as opener may just have been given while a final verdict on Masood’s condition was being considered.
The remaining two options to accompany Azhar at the top of the order are Sami Aslam and Fakhar Zaman. The situation is not nearly ideal with docile Aslam, who suffers from erring form, a complete contrast to the hard-hitting Fakhar Zaman who may find himself dazed by the slowness of test cricket.
Furthermore, injured Masood who has been in and out of the team for the past few years and a mainstay at the top of the order in the recent past, would probably have been the team’s best foot forward. Captain Sarfraz will now have to judge whether to take the safe but unpromising bet of playing Sami Aslam again or choosing a wild card and throwing Fakhar a test cap.
This might also just trigger the faintest hope for cricket fans of Fawad Alam’s return, who recently wowed selectors with his high fitness test scores along with rock constant domestic performance. He is also on the list of players who will be joining the initial test camp at Gadaffi from Wednesday.
One can’t help but wonder that this might just be it. And also that Fawad might finally reap his rewards after the drudgery of domestic cricket. The PCB should not have any problems because not only is he a great prospect but has also borne his burden with grace and little criticism.
As the possibility lurks, fans of Fawad will remember that it was as an opener that he scored a sublime century against Sri Lanka on debut all those years ago.
However, with another injury almost confirmed, Pakistan seems to be teetering on the edges of disaster. While they are going through a fitness test, it is also not clear if either of Imad Wasim and Sohail Khan will be able to make the overseas trip.
And without Sohail Khan, Pakistan’s already vulnerable bowling lineup will face another blow, especially considering that they will need pacers capable of bowling above 135 Km/h regularly on the English and Irish pitches.