Friday June 14, 2024

Pak vs NZ: Sarfaraz Ahmed returns to Test squad after four years

Karachi's right-handed batter Sarfaraz Ahmed last featured in longest format of cricket back in 2019 against South Africa

By Sports Desk
December 26, 2022
Wicketkeeper-batter Sarfaraz Ahmed. — AFP/File
Wicketkeeper-batter Sarfaraz Ahmed. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Wicketkeeper-batter Sarfaraz Ahmed replaced Mohammad Rizwan in the playing XI for today's Test against New Zealand, four years on from his last international outing in whites.

The right-handed batter last featured in the longest format of cricket back in 2019 against South Africa, in which he scored half a ton and took 10 catches.

Some other changes have also been made to the squad selected for the first Test against the Black Caps being played in Karachi today (Monday). Pacer Mir Hamza has replaced injured Naseem Shah.

The changes in the Test team come after the appointment of Shahid Afridi as the chief selector for the New Zealand series following changes in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management. A 14-member body, headed by Najam Sethi, is tasked to oversee the PCB operations for 120 days.

Afridi calls for workload management

Speaking to the media in Karachi on Sunday, Shahid Afridi emphasised the need for players’ workload management and hinted at the inclusion of Mir Hamza and Sarfaraz Ahmed in the final XI.

The first major decision by Afridi was to include Mir Hamza, Sajid Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani in Pakistan’s Test squad for the home series.

Afridi told the media that players were included seeing their performances and Pakistan’s strength.

“I’ve got to know that Naseem Shah is not fully fit so it was good to add two fast bowlers in the squad. We’ve been carrying Shahnawaz Dahani for so many days, when will he get the opportunity. Also, when Shaheen is not around, it was important to have a left-hander that’s why Mir Hamza was included,” Shahid Afridi had said.

“And, Mir Hamza has been performing well, I think he deserves to play now,” said the chief selector.

Afridi added that players’ workload management is important and it is something that the captain Babar Azam has also emphasised on.

“We have players who are constantly playing all formats. We need to strengthen our bench so that if one is rested there should be no problem, also we have some seniors who’ve been warming the bench for long, so lets see. I am meeting Babar Azam tonight and we will discuss how to move,” the chief selector said.

Afridi also added that he wants to see Babar Azam among the great captains and he will support him to become as good a captain as good a batsman he is.