Shaheen returns to Pakistan Test side for two-match series in Sri Lanka

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A “very excited” pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi was included in Pakistan’s Test squad for their two-match series against Sri Lanka next month, the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a press release on Saturday.

“After missing our entire home season because of the injury I suffered in Sri Lanka, I am eager to make an impactful comeback in the same country and complete a century of wickets in Test cricket,” the press release quoted the 2021 ICC cricketer of the year as saying.

He recently indicated that fans would see him deliver a red ball on Twitter.

Afridi returned for the national side in Twenty20 International (T20I) and One-Day International (ODI) squads for the home series against New Zealand in April after a gap of four months.

The lanky left-arm pacer is one wicket away from reaching a century of Test wickets, no Pakistan bowler has managed to match the tally since he made his debut in 2018.

Shaheen, 23, averages 24.86 and has an economy of 3.04.

New additions
The PCB board stated that uncapped all-rounder Aamir Jamal and batter Mohammad Huraira are also included in the side set to face Sri Lanka for what will be Pakistan’s first assignment in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.

Huraira, who has played 24 first-class, 10 List A and six T20 matches, has earned the spot after an impressive run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in which he was the leading run-scorer in the last two iterations, the cricketing board said.

He will be joined by his Northern and Shaheens’ teammate Aamir who topped the wicket-takers chart for the fast bowlers in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23, taking 31 scalps at an average of 29.71 and recording two five-wicket hauls.

PCB men’s chief selector Haroon Rashid congratulated the two new additions in the test side, stating that the pair had pushed their case through “impressive performances” over a period of time.

“We have devised this squad with the conditions and challenges that our players will encounter in Sri Lanka. This is our first series of the third round of the ICC World Test Championship and this squad is fully capable of providing us a solid start,” he added.

New bowling coach
PCB also announced the appointment of Morne Morkel as the national side’s bowling coach who has joined the national side on a six-month contract.

The South African veteran took 309 wickets in 86 Tests, 188 wickets in 117 ODIs and 47 scalps in 44 T20Is. His last international game was in Lahore for World XI against Pakistan in September 2017.

Pakistan squad
Squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi, and Shan Masood.