Why is Babar Azam not playing today’s PSL 8 match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Rawalpindi?

Dixit Bhargav
|Published March 12, 2023

During the 29th match of the ongoing eighth season of the Pakistan Super League between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Rawalpindi, Islamabad United captain Shadab Khan has won the toss and chose to bowl.

Having already qualified for the playoffs, United have made a couple of changes to their Playing XI as wicket-keeper batter Azam Khan and all-rounder Mubasir Khan have been left out.

Pakistan batter Sohaib Maqsood, who hasn’t played international cricket in over 19 months, has been handed a debut by Islamabad today. Maqsood, 35, used to ply his trade for Lahore Qalandars (2016), Peshawar Zalmi (2017) and Multan Sultans (2018-2022) in the past. Other than Maqsood, batter Hassan Nawaz has been provided with his third PSL 8 opportunity.

Why is Babar Azam not playing today vs Islamabad United?

Zalmi, on the contrary, have made as many as six changes to their Playing XI which was part of a record-breaking loss against Multan Sultans at the same venue on Friday.

Captain Babar Azam, batter Rovman Powell, all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai, pacers Wahab Riaz and Arshad Iqbal and spinner Usman Qadir won’t be participating in the penultimate league match of the season.

While all other changes have been made to hand opportunities to reserve players in a dead-rubber contest, Azam has been left out due to an illness. Second-highest run-scorer in PSL 2023, it is a rare instance of Azam missing a match in this competition.

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While uncapped England batter Tom Kohler-Cadmore is leading Zalmi in Azam’s absence at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on a Sunday afternoon, the likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, James Neesham, Aamer Jamal, Khurram Shahzad, Salman Irshad and Sufiyan Muqeem have been included as replacements by PZ’s team management.

Much like IU, PZ have also qualified for Pakistan Super League 2023 playoffs scheduled to commence in Lahore from Wednesday. A sound victory for United might propel them to finish among the Top two teams. Zalmi, meanwhile, will remain at the fourth position irrespective of their performance in this match.

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About the author

Dixit Bhargav

Dixit Bhargav

Born and brought up in Pathankot, Dixit Bhargav is an engineering and sports management graduate who is currently into his fifth year as a Cricket Editor at The SportsRush. His first cricketing memory dates back to 2002 when former India captain Sourav Ganguly had waved his jersey at the historic Lord’s balcony. What followed for an 8-year-old was an instant adulation for both Ganguly and the sport. The optimist in him is waiting for the day when Punjab Kings will win their maiden Indian Premier League title. When not watching cricket, he is mostly found in a cinema hall watching a Punjabi movie.

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