LAHORE: Pakistan’s selectors have named uncapped runner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Muhammad Ali in the 18-member national team for the three-match Test series against England to be played next month.
The captain and former wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed and all the players Fahim Ashraf were called up. The selectors dropped Fawad Alam, Yasir Shah and Hasan Ali, who were part of the tour of Sri Lanka in July earlier this year. Fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi was not available for selection after undergoing appendicitis surgery on Sunday.
Abrar and Ali were rewarded for their strong first-class performances with first Test call-ups. Abrar, 24, was in the red in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Before the final innings began on Sunday (20 November), Abrar had taken 43 wickets at an average of 21.95 in six matches.
Ali took 24 wickets – the most by any fast bowler in this first-class season, including two five-wicket hauls at 25.54 in six matches. “This series has opened up opportunities for Abrar Ahmed, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Waseem Jenner and Zahed Mahmoud,” said Chief Specialist Muhammad Waseem.
Abrar has been on the radar since his first season in the top flight in 2020-21. He is in fantastic form this season so it makes sense that we would make him available to Babar Azam so he can use the confidence and talent of this youngster in the upcoming series.
Muhammad Ali has shown great patience and control, and his numbers speak for his fortitude. He was our best fast bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 56 wickets at an average of 24 in the last two seasons.
“Al-Zahid is another footballer who was in the plans,” Waseem said. “He has shown improvement over the years and has been a part of successive squads. We have bolstered our fast bowling stock with the best talent available. There is no doubt about the skills of Mohamed Waseem Jr.
He moves the new and old ball laterally at a high pace, which is a great advantage for any side.” Fawad made 33 runs in four innings from three Tests against Australia earlier this year. He scored 25 runs in his only Test in Sri Lanka.
Hasan Ali has taken five wickets in his last four Tests against Australia and Sri Lanka. Yasir Shah has taken nine wickets for Sri Lanka but has only managed 14 wickets in seven Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches so far.
Haris Rauf will likely make his debut in Afridi’s absence. “Haris is one of the fast bowlers who has worked with the team and we have determined that he can be a killer in Test cricket as well,” said Waseem.
“The kind of conditions we have in mind, he can be effective with the new ball as well as with the old ball.” The three tests are scheduled to be held in Rawalpindi (1-5 December), Multan (9-13 December) and Karachi (17-21 December).
Pakistan squad for England Tests: Babar Azam (c), Muhammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Abdullah Shafiq, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Nawaz, Muhammad Wasim Janr, Naseem Shah Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood.