Pakistan’s fast bowler, Naseem Shah, is facing the grim prospect of missing the entire World Cup due to a severe right shoulder injury that has been revealed to be more serious than initially anticipated. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is actively considering seeking a second medical opinion, but initial scans conducted in Dubai indicate that this injury may sideline him for the remainder of the year.
If subsequent medical assessments corroborate the initial findings, Naseem could potentially face an extended period of absence from the cricket arena. His participation in the upcoming Test series in Australia, scheduled for the beginning of the year, now hangs in the balance. Furthermore, there is a growing concern that he might also be unavailable for the next edition of the Pakistan Super League in 2024.
Naseem Shah’s injury ordeal commenced during Pakistan’s recent clash against India in the Asia Cup. He had to leave the field during the 46th over on the reserve day designated for that game and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament.
The PCB had advocated for the inclusion of the reserve day in the schedule, particularly for the India match, as a concession following the decision not to move the matches to Hambantota, a venue expected to offer drier conditions. It was on this very reserve day that Naseem sustained the injury, specifically to a muscle located just below his bowling shoulder. This injury is distinct from any prior shoulder issues he may have had.
According to ESPNcricinfo, Naseem Shah’s absence from the World Cup, along with his uncertain participation in the upcoming Australian series, represents a significant setback for Pakistan. In the past year, Naseem has transitioned from being a specialist red-ball bowler to becoming an integral part of Pakistan’s bowling attack across all formats. His current form indicates that he is the standout performer among Pakistan’s highly regarded trio of fast bowlers, which includes Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.
The PCB is expected to make an official decision once they receive the results of his follow-up scans in the coming days. During his absence from the Asia Cup, Naseem Shah was replaced by Zaman Khan, while Mohammad Hasnain, another potential replacement, is currently nursing an injury.
Naseem has grappled with injury issues early in his cricketing career. A back injury, sustained just a year into his international career when he was only 17, sidelined him from the sport for a lengthy 14 months. Six weeks after his return, he suffered a shoulder injury during his debut in the County Championship with Gloucestershire, which kept him out of action for another month.
Over the past 18 months, Naseem’s workload has considerably increased. Initially regarded as a red-ball specialist, he has evolved into a crucial bowler for Pakistan in all formats of the game. Since his ODI debut, he has emerged as Pakistan’s most potent bowler, amassing 32 wickets in just 14 matches at an impressive average of under 17.
Additionally, Naseem has been in high demand on the T20 circuit, recently participating in the LPL. His inclusion in the SA20 auction shortlist on Friday is now a likely casualty of his unfortunate injury situation.