Junaid Khan ruled out of NZ tour with stress fracture
Fast bowler Junaid Khan has been ruled out for four weeks due to a stress fracture of the foot, a setback for the Pakistan team ahead of their limited-overs tour to New Zealand. Junaid fractured his right foot during the Bangladesh Premier League in November.
He reportedly hit a ball onto his foot while playing for Khulna Titans in the BPL, and the latest assessment confirmed an unhealed stress fracture, for which the Pakistan Cricket Board's medical panel - headed by Dr Sohail Saleem - advised the 27-year-old bowler another four weeks' rest.
Pakistan's five-ODI series in New Zealand begins on January 6, with the three T20Is set to be played between January 22 and 28. The Pakistan selectors are expected to announce a squad later this week, with the team's departure scheduled for December 26. Junaid is the second injury concern for selectors after Usman Shinwari, another left-arm quick, was sidelined by a stress fracture of the back last month.
The injuries could boost the comeback prospects of fast bowlers Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Khan. Irfan was barred from all forms of cricket for a year - with six months suspended - in March, after failing to report details of two approaches to corrupt the game. He returned to competitive cricket in September, but has not played international cricket since September 2016.
The injury means Junaid's likely T20 comeback is set to be delayed. The bowler, who last played a T20I in 2014 and a Test in 2015, has struggled with injury in the past. In 2014, he missed matches on the tour of New Zealand due to a thigh injury and was later ruled out of the 2015 World Cup, before making a return again later that year on the tour of Bangladesh. He made a comeback to the ODI side on the tour of Australia in January this year, replacing Irfan who returned due to the death of his mother. Junaid has since gone on to play 14 of the side's 18 ODIs in 2017, sharing the new ball with Mohammad Amir.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent