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News

Shahzad a significant doubt for Boxing Day Test

He has been sent for an MRI scan, but his participation in the second Test appears unlikely

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
20-Dec-2023
Khurram Shahzad lets out an early appeal, Australia vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Optus Stadium, December 14, 2023

Khurram Shahzad was Pakistan's most prolific bowler in the second innings in Perth  •  Getty Images and Cricket Australia

Pakistan's preparations for the second Test in Melbourne have been dealt a setback after Khurram Shahzad became a significant doubt for the game. Shahzad complained of discomfort in his left side while bowling during the first Test, and has now been sent for an MRI scan. The results for which will come back on Thursday, but ESPNcricinfo understands the his participation in the second is on balance unlikely.
While Shahzad was never an express fast bowler, his speeds were down slightly in the second innings. This did not prevent him from being effective, however, as he was Pakistan's most prolific bowler in the innings, taking 3 for 45 in his 16 overs.
Shahzad, alongside fellow debutant Aamer Jamal, was among the few bright sparks for Pakistan in an otherwise miserable performance from the visitors, who slumped to a 360-run defeat with a day to spare. He took five wickets across the Test, including the removal of Steven Smith in each innings. He found more sideways movement through the air than any other Pakistan bowler, and offered control more reliably than any other frontline bowler; he was the most economical of the four over the Test.
Shahzad's doubt adds to Pakistan's growing bowling injury woes. Naseem Shah was ruled out of the tour with a long-term injury, while Abrar Ahmed missed the first Test with discomfort in his right leg. He is a significant doubt for the whole tour.
His replacement Noman Ali sustained a finger injury according to head coach Mohammad Hafeez. Sajid Khan, flown in as cover, arrived too late to play the first Test, and is expected to take his place in the second with Pakistan seeking to play a specialist spinner.
Should Shahzad miss out, Pakistan have Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim Jnr in the squad. The second Test starts on December 26 in Melbourne. Pakistan will play a two-day game against a Victorian XI side at the Junction Oval starting December 22. It will not be a first-class game, allowing Pakistan to give a run to as many players as they need.

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000