Pakistan suffered a major blow ahead of their tour of Ireland and England with the news that their leading spinner Yasir Shah has been ruled out for 10 weeks. He picked up a stress fracture of his hip and will have to undergo extensive rehabilitation. In absence of Yasir, Pakistan's selectors are considering fellow legspinner Shadab Khan and left-arm spinner Kashif Bhatti for the three Test matches.
Yasir, 31, recently played a full part in the PSL with Lahore Qalandars, but afterwards complained of pain in his hip bone. He has been involved in a local tournament in his town, Swabi, lately where he featured in a friendly match, but it is unclear if he picked up the injury there.
An MRI confirmed a stress fracture that requires conservative rehabilitation, beginning with four weeks of rest, followed by a six weeks of active rehab. He has been called up to the National Cricket Academy for further assessment, but will not join the pool of players undergoing fitness tests along with Imad Wasim and Sohail Khan - both of whom are out with injury. The PCB has called up centrally contract players for mid-year fitness tests ahead of the Ireland and England tour, and training sessions will be carried out before selectors shortlist a final 17-man squad.
Since his debut in 2014, Yasir has been Pakistan's go-to bowler in Test cricket and bowled more deliveries than anyone else - 1546.1 overs, the third heaviest workload in world cricket. At 28, he entered the fray of Test cricket somewhat late, but became an automatic selection in the longer format of the game and a central figure of Pakistan's attack, taking 165 wickets in 28 Tests.
Derbyshire, who have been linked with Yasir for a T20-cum-Championship deal, are monitoring the situation and an unbalanced fixture list which gives them five Vitality T20 Blast fixtures in the first eight days will mean they will have to be absolutely certain of Yasir's fitness. Yasir's Pakistan team-mate and fellow legspinner, Shadab Khan, might be another option, although he would be absent from the latter stages of the Championship because of the Asia Cup.