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The knee injury that Pakistan legspinner Abrar Ahmed sustained during a tour game earlier this week has ruled him out of the first Test against Australia on Thursday and created doubts around his participation in the two matches that follow.
A press release from the PCB on Sunday said Abrar will stay with the team and undergo treatment in Perth. Then he will undergo "conservative rehabilitation" and will have to be reassessed before the Boxing Day Test to "ascertain his availability on this tour". The PCB hasn't ruled him out of playing in Melbourne or Sydney just yet, but has called up Sajid Khan to bolster the spin stocks.
On day three of the warm-up match against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra, Abrar went off the field after bowling 27 overs "due to severe pain in his right leg around his knee". Following an initial assessment by the PCB medical team, he was sent for an MRI scan which revealed the extent of the damage.
Abrar, who has picked up 38 wickets in his six Tests so far, was shaping to be the lead spin bowler for Pakistan as they attempt to win their first-ever Test series in Australia. If he is to spend an extended period of time on the sidelines, that will put the onus on Noman Ali to lead the spin attack in conditions that may not suit his style of bowling. The left-arm orthodox bowler has typically thrived on slow and low pitches, picking up 47 wickets in 15 Tests.
Sajid, meanwhile, has 22 wickets from seven Tests, the last of which came in March 2022. He was the joint-12th-highest wicket-taker in the 2023 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's first-class competition, with 18 strikes in six games.
Agha Salman, the spin-bowling allrounder in the squad, may be pressed into spin service as well.
Pakistan have plenty of seam options to call upon with Shaheen Shah Afridi as their spearhead and Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf and the uncapped duo of Khurram Shahzad and Aamer Jamal coming in as support.