Pakistan cricket selectors have named a 20-member squad, including nine uncapped players, for the two-Test series against South Africa, which commences here on 26 January. The players will enter the bio-secure bubble on 19 January and the squad will be trimmed to 16 players ahead of the first Test.
Lahore: 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.
Hasan Ali 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.
Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar, who played in the last Test in Christchurch, have been left out. Haris, Abbas and Shan will be invited to the High Performance Centre in Lahore so that they can work on their technical faults with the qualified coaches. Zafar who made his Test Debut in Christchurch remains part of selectors long term plans in both red and white ball cricket, and will also work with 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 National High Performance Centre.
The 20-player squad is:
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)