Pakistan, on Friday, announced their 20-man squad for the upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa at home. The hosts have dropped fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Haris Sohail from the Test squad after the trio’s poor outing during the tour of New Zealand where Pakistan were whitewashed in the two-Test series.
Abbas managed to pick up just four wickets in four innings despite the pacer-friendly conditions of New Zealand. On the other hand, Masood scored 10 runs including three ducks in four innings while Sohail managed to score just 28 runs. Pakistan have named as many as nine uncapped players in the squad, making it clear that the team-management is now eyeing a fresh start after an inconsistent run in the longest format of the game in the last few years.
Babar Azam will lead the side after missing both the Tests in New Zealand due to a thumb fracture. The home side has also recalled fast bowler Hasan Ali after his stunning display in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy where he picked up 43 wickets in addition to scoring a thrilling century in the final. Hasan was sidelined with an injury.
Among some other prominent names who have missed out are Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah. Both the bowlers are currently sidelined with injuries. Pakistan have added spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Nauman Ali to the side with veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah set to lead the attack.
“Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Shan Masood have been dropped due to inconsistent performances. However, the PCB will not let its investment on these talented players go to waste and will invite them to the High Performance Centre so that they can work out their technical flaws and get back into contention,” said chief selector Mohammad Wasim.
“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,” he added.
The first of the two-Test series begins on January 26 at the National Stadium in Karachi. The second Test at Rawalpindi will be followed by a three-match T20I series.
Pakistan Test squad:
Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan