Naseem Shah
Naseem Shah. (Photo: AFP)

Pakistan pace bowler Naseem Shah is added to the squad for the first Test match against Australia as a replacement for Haris Rauf.

Rauf, who was likely to make his Test debut in the three-match Test series against Australia this month, tested COVID-19 positive on Tuesday and the Nothern pacer was ruled out of the first Test.

Naseem Shah replaces Haris Rauf for the first Test

The 28-year-old will be kept under isolation for five days and will rejoin the squad once he returns with a negative COVID-19 report.

PAK vs AUS: Naseem Shah Replaces Haris Rauf In Pakistan's Squad For Rawalpindi Test
Haris Rauf
Haris Rauf Credits: Twitter.

“Haris has tested positive and has gone into isolation and with the Test just three days away it seems highly unlikely he will be available for the first Test starting March 4,” a team official said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed that all the team members including support staff were tested for the second time just after receiving Rauf’s news. All of them returned with negative tests.

Rauf’s isolation dents another heavy blow to Pakistan after regular team pacers Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf were ruled out of the first match owing to various injuries. Middle-order batter Iftikhar Ahmed and speedster Mohammad Wasim Jr were added to the squad for the Test opener against Australia.

Naseem Shah has 20 Test scalps from nine matches

PAK vs AUS: Naseem Shah Replaces Haris Rauf In Pakistan's Squad For Rawalpindi Test
Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Sah

The 19-year-old Shah, who was named one of the five reserved players in the Test squad, could pair with Shaheen Afridi to bowl the new ball in early overs. Shah, who has picked 20 wickets from nine Tests, had made his Test debut against Australia in November 2019 in Brisbane.

The first Test between Pakistan and Australia commences on March 4 (Friday) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. The Australian team’s visit will end their 24 years of absence from playing in Pakistan as the last time the five-time World Cup winners toured the Asian nation was back in 1998.

Pakistan squad for the first Test vs Australia: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood

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