Australian quick Michael Neser ruled out of Pakistan tour; replacement announced

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Australian fast bowler Michael Neser has been ruled out of the upcoming Test tour of Pakistan, starting March 4 in Rawalpindi.

Neser, who recently made his Test debut, has been ruled out due to a side strain suffered during a Marsh One-Day Cup match in Brisbane. Uncapped Queensland fast bowler Mark Steketee has been called into Australia’s squad to replace Neser.

Further, another uncapped speedster from Queensland, Brendan Doggett, has also been named as standby for the series.

Notably, Steketee was part of Australia’s extended squad for the tour of South Africa in 2021 before it was called off. The right-armer has taken 29 wickets at an average of just 16.31 in the current Marsh Sheffield Shield season, including an eight-wicket haul against New South Wales last week. Overall, Steketee has 182 wickets to his credit at 25.67 in first-class cricket.

“That’s one of the great challenges without match practice but with the experience that we’ve got in (Josh) Hazlewood, (Mitchell) Starc and (Pat) Cummins, they’re very well versed in shifting formats,” said Australian interim coach Andrew McDonald as quoted by Cricket.com.au.

The Pindi Stadium in Rawalpindi will host the three-match Test series opener from March 4 to 8. The action will then move to the National Stadium in Karachi, where the second Test will be played from March 12 to 16. Similarly, the third and final match will start on March 21 at Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.

Here is Australia’s updated squad:

Pat Cummins (captain), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. On standby: Sean Abbott, Brendan Doggett

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