Nine uncapped players have been selected in the 20-member side including domestic performer Tabish Khan
KARACHI: Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim has announced Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming Test series against South Africa.
Mohammad Wasim, in his first assignment as the chief selector, has excluded the players who failed to perform in New Zealand for the home series. The list includes nine uncapped players.
Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imran Butt, middle-order batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel, spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan have been rewarded for their stellar performances in the 2020-21 domestic season, including the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict COVID-19 protocols. This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket,” Wasim said.
Hasan Ali, who earlier expressed his desire to be in the team, has returned to the Test side after two years following a highly successful Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in which he was adjudged player of the final and tournament.
Hasan, whose ninth and last Test appearance was against South Africa in Johannesburg, took 43 wickets and scored 273 runs in a fierce and highly competitive Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that included match figures of five for 129 and 106 not out in the second innings of the tied final.
Also returning to the side is left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who took 22 wickets with two-fers and scored 744 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He last played a Test against the West Indies in Sharjah in 2016.
Nawaz and Faheem Ashraf are the two-all-rounders in a side that also includes three openers, six middle-order batsmen, two wicketkeepers, three spinners and four fast bowlers.
Bad performers left out
Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar, who played in the last Test in Christchurch, have been left out.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that Haris, Abbas and Shan will be invited to the National High-Performance Centre (NHPC) in Lahore so that they can work on their technical faults with the qualified coaches. Zafar, it added, remains part of selectors long term plans in both red and white ball cricket, and will also work with the NHPC coaches on further improvement of his all-round skillset.
Fast bowler Naseem Shah was not considered for selection after complaining of a niggle in his hamstring. He will shortly commence his rehabilitation programme at the NHPC.
The chief selector, while announcing the squad, said that Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Shan Masood have been dropped due to inconsistent performances and added, “Shan’s bad form has opened doors for Abid Ali’s new partner, be it either Abdullah Shafique or Imran Butt, who was last season’s top scorer. Together with Abdullah, he was in New Zealand with the Shaheens side”.
“Kamran Ghulam (1,249 runs), Saud Shakeel (970 runs) and Salman Ali Agha (941 runs) walk into the middle-order to support Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Fawad Alam. This is a formidable and highly skilled middle-order, which will encourage a further healthy competition for a permanent place in the side.”
In absence of Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan, Wasim said, the selectors have shown faith in bowlers with diverse variations and skillsets, who also know our conditions at the back of their hands.
“The horses for courses policy means performers like left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, off-spinner Sajid Shah, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan will be available for selection, depending on the team composition for the first Test against South Africa in Pakistan in 14 years.
“Tabish Khan has been preferred over Sohail Khan as he is more effective and useful in Pakistan conditions. Like Mohammad Abbas, Tabish is a workhorse, who can bowl long spells with controlled line and length. His 598 career first-class wickets, including 30 wickets this season, is a testament that he is a like-to-like replacement for Mohammad Abbas in the given conditions.”
Openers – Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab) and Imran Butt (Balochistan)
Middle-order batsmen - Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Kamran Ghulam (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab) and Saud Shakeel (Sindh)
All-rounders – Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab) and Mohammad Nawaz (Northern)
Wicketkeepers – Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh)
Spinners – Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan)
Fast bowlers – Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Tabish Khan (Sindh)