KARACHI: Pakistan’s injury problems grew with opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq ruled out of the third and final Test against England starting in Karachi on Saturday.
The 26-year-old aggravated a hamstring injury on Friday, making Pakistan’s task of avoiding a first home 3-0 Test whitewash all the tougher.
Veteran batsman Azhar Ali is likely to replace Haq, having announced that this will be his last Test.
Bespectacled left-hander Haq batted at number five in the second Test in Multan, scoring 60, as Pakistan lost by 26 runs.
“Imam has a hamstring problem so he will not play tomorrow’s match,” said skipper Babar Azam on Friday.
Azam said injuries had cost Pakistan dearly in the series.
They lost pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi before the series with a knee injury and Haris Rauf damaged his quad muscle in the first Test in Rawalpindi.
Another fast bowler, Naseem Shah, has failed to recover from a shoulder strain that forced him to miss the second Test, also ruling him out of the final match.
“We have played continuous cricket and there was no rest, so that is why we are having so many injuries,” said Azam on the eve of the Karachi showdown against a confident England.
“It’s not that we are relaxed on fitness but we have to address fitness issues. If we are playing continuous cricket we have to plan that accordingly.”
Azam hopes the Karachi pitch will help the spinners.
“The wicket looks dry and it’s a typical Karachi pitch,” he said.
“We will try to have a good result for us. We committed mistakes and matches were in our hands, so we must not repeat them.”
Pakistan are likely to hand a Test debut to fast bowler Mohammad Wasim Junior in place of Mohammad Ali, who went wicketless in the Multan Test.