LAHORE: Pakistan paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out of the Men In Green’s Test series against England as he goes rehabilitation following surgery and an injury.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim confirmed the 18-player squad for December’s three ICC World Test Championship matches during a press conference at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium as the Babar Azam-led side gear up for the upcoming series.
The absence of Shaheen has dealt a huge blow to the Pakistani side, who rely heavily on the young bowler to lead the team’s pace attack.
Shaheen was unavailable for selection after he underwent appendicitis surgery on Sunday, which will require three-four weeks’ rest following which he will resume his two-week rehabilitation on his right knee.
Shaheen, Pakistan’s strike bowler in all formats of the game, has 99 Test, 62 ODI, and 58 T20 international wickets from a career that started in 2018.
There are four changes in the squad from Pakistan’s last Test assignment, which was in Sri Lanka that resulted in the two-Test series ending 1-1. The three players who are not part of the side, apart from Shaheen, are Hasan Ali, Fawad Alam, and Yasir Shah.
Fawad managed 33 runs in four innings of three Tests against Australia earlier this year, while he scored 25 runs in his only Test in Sri Lanka. Hasan took five wickets in his last four Tests against Australia and Sri Lanka, while Yasir Shah bagged nine wickets in Sri Lanka but has managed only 14 wickets in seven Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches to date.
Maiden Test call-ups
Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali have been rewarded for their strong first-class performances with maiden Test call-ups.
Twenty-four-year-old Abrar is in red-hot form in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Before the start of the last round on Sunday (20 November), Abrar had claimed 43 wickets at an average of 21.95.
He has recorded five five-wicket hauls in six matches and has played an integral role in turning his side into serious contenders to secure a berth in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final.
Central Punjab’s Mohammad Ali has been the best fast bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in the last two editions, taking 56 wickets. His 24 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls, at 25.54 in six matches are the most for any fast bowler this first-class season.
His 32 wickets at 22.78 in eight matches in 2021-22 were also the most for a fast bowler.
Uncapped Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Zahid Mehmood, who were part of the Test side for the three Tests against Australia earlier in the year, are the other two players to return to the side.
In his presser, Wasim congratulated all the players who have been selected for the historic Test series against England.
“I am confident that this team will ensure that the upcoming Test series against England will end in the same manner as it did when they last toured Pakistan in 2005,” the chief selector said.
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.
Schedule of Tests
December 1-5 – 1st Test, Rawalpindi
December 9-13 – 2nd Test, Multan
December 17-21 – 3rd Test, Karachi