CAIRNS-Star Pakistan leg-spinner ruled out of Pakistan's tour match ahead of first Test due to a back injury

Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah has picked up a back injury during a team practice session in Cairns where the visitors will play a three-day tour match against a Cricket Australia XI, starting on Thursday.

The star bowler is being treated by medical experts and has been advised to have two days rest, rendering him unavailable for the pink-ball warm-up match and meaning he will go into the Commonwealth Bank Test series against Australia without any match practice. "Yasir Shah got a back injury during bowling in a practice session. He is getting treatment from medical experts at Cairns,” said a press release from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). "He has been advised two day rest by the doctors and will not be able to participate in the warm up match going to be held in Cairns."

Yasir, who is Pakistan’s best bowler on the International Cricket Council's rankings and the world’s leading leg-spinner, also missed Pakistan's last Test against New Zealand at Hamilton after they opted for four pacemen on a grassy Seddon Park pitch. The 30-year-old went wicket-less for the first time in his 20-match career in the first Test against the Kiwis but he is expected to play a key role for Pakistan in the upcoming series in Australia where the pitches are likely to have more bounce and carry, providing assistance to his style of bowling.

Pakistan, who have never won a series in Australia and a Test there for over two decades, will rely heavily on his wily leg-spinners in the series Down Under.

He's been a vital cog behind Pakistan’s performances since his Test debut against Australia in Dubai in 2014 and was arguably the main man behind them briefly ascending to be the No.1 team in the ICC Test Rankings.

In the recent series against West Indies in the United Arab Emirates, he became the quickest man to complete 100 wickets in Tests in the last 85 years, reaching the milestone in just his 17th match.

Yasir, though, has a history of injuries; he missed the first Test against England in Abu Dhabi in 2015 due to a back spasm and, in his absence, Pakistan were forced to go with three seamers, It was an unusual combination for them in the UAE conditions, and they might have lost the Test on the final day if bad light had not halted play.

In December 2015, he was also tested positive for taking diuretics and was handed a three month ban by ICC, leading to him missing a tour to New Zealand as well as the ICC World T20 in India.

In May this year he was also ruled out of the training camp in Abbottabad due to a knee injury and at one stage was even unlikely to tour England, where Pakistan drew the four-Test series 2-2, with Yasir the standout Pakistan bowler, taking 19 wickets at 40.73 including a ten-wicket haul at Lord's. Yasir’s injury scare will surely result in a few sleepless nights in the Pakistan camp, as the visitors do not have any other specialist back up spinners in the 16-man squad.

The only other spin option in the team at the moment is allrounder Mohammad Nawaz, who bowls left-arm spin and took just five wickets in the three Tests against West Indies this year.