Usman Khawaja places peace symbol on bat ahead of Boxing Day Test against Australia

Pakistan suffer more injury woes ahead of Melbourne match

Australia batsman Usman Khawaja, left, with teammate Nathan Lyon during a practice session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. AFP
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Australia's Usman Khawaja continued to push his message for tolerance by placing a peace symbol on his bat and shoes during training for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.

A sticker showing a black dove and the words 01: UDHR – a reference to Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – was on his bat and shoes during training in Melbourne on Sunday.

The left-handed batsman held multiple meetings with Cricket Australia over recent days to find a message that would be appropriate for the second Test this week.

However, The Australian and Melbourne Age newspapers reported that the International Cricket Council had refused permission for his latest humanitarian gesture.

Khawaja was stopped from wearing shoes with the handwritten slogans “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” during the first Test in Perth.

The 36-year-old wanted to show his support for the people of Gaza but was told his messages broke ICC rules on statements that relate to politics, religion or race.

He wore a black armband during the match and was reprimanded by the ICC, but insisted afterwards it was for a “personal bereavement” and promised to contest the ruling.

Pakistan, meanwhile, have lost the services of spinner Noman Ali who became the second player in two days to withdraw from the touring squad for the remainder of the three-Test series due to illness and injury.

Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz will replace Ali in the squad. Ali, who didn’t play in the 360-run defeat in the first Test at Perth last week, underwent surgery for appendicitis in Melbourne on Saturday.

“Noman Ali complained of sudden and severe abdominal pain yesterday, leading to examinations and scans in emergency that confirmed a diagnosis of acute appendicitis,” a Pakistan team statement read. “Post-surgery he is stable and doing fine.”

The latest blow for the tourists comes after fast bowler Khurram Shahzad, who took match figures of 5-128 in his impressive Test debut in Perth, was ruled out for the remainder of the series with a rib stress fracture and muscle tear on Thursday.

Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed, who missed the first Test, was also ruled out of the Boxing Day match because of a leg injury.

Pakistan had travelled to Australia with a weakened bowling line-up after fast-bowler Naseem Shah was ruled out due to a long-term injury and Haris Rauf opted to play in Australia’s Big Bash League instead of joining the touring squad.

“It is really unfortunate that Noman Ali is not available for the Test matches,” chief selector Wahab Riaz said.

“Due to logistical challenges, including visa issues for any new player, and considering the requirement for a left-arm spinner, Nawaz was the best available choice for the side.”

Updated: December 24, 2023, 10:40 AM