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Sarfaraz Ahmed will miss the first ODI against Australia after returning home to take care of his mother © Getty Images

Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman, has become the second player from his team to return home in a troubled lead-up to Friday’s opening One-Day International against Australia in Brisbane.

Azhar Ali, the captain, confirmed on Thursday (January 12) that Pakistan would be without their vice-captain for the opening game at the Gabba and possibly the entire five-match series.

Sarfraz had to return to Pakistan in a hurry to be with his mother, who has been admitted to intensive care in a hospital in Karachi, just a few days after Mohammad Irfan, the left-arm paceman, also left the team following the death of his mother.

Mohammad Rizwan, who kept wickets and scored a run-a-ball 22 in the Pakistanis’ 196-run win over a Cricket Australia XI on Tuesday, was the frontrunner to replace Sarfraz in the XI, at least for the first game.

“We’ll definitely miss Sarfraz tomorrow. Hopefully, he can rejoin the team but, as for right now, he’s not here,” said Azhar on the eve of the first ODI.

Azhar felt the addition of some new faces and Tuesday’s warm-up win had helped lift the team’s mood after the 3-0 drubbing in the Test series.

“I know it (against Cricket Australia XI) wasn’t a very competitive game, but I still believe the batsmen who scored runs will get a lot of confidence,” he said. “The bowlers had a good outing as well. There’s nothing like playing matches. It’s good to be out there no matter what sort of team you play against.”