Strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi will surely miss the much-anticipated three-match Test series against England starting next month after being left out of the 18-man squad announced by Pakistan on Monday.
Also missing is out-of-fit leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who has taken 45 England wickets in nine Tests since making his debut in 2014.
England have not played a Test match in Pakistan since 2005 – having refused to tour since then due to the country’s precarious security situation – but played the successful Twenty20 series earlier this year.
They are due in Islamabad on November 26, with the first test in Rawalpindi from December 1-5.
Muhammad Wasim, the Pakistan selection captain, announced that Shaheen’s long-term recovery was a priority.
The 22-year-old injured his knee during the T20 final Globalism Cup against England in Melbourne this month, but also had his appendix removed on Sunday – an operation that usually takes at least three weeks of recovery.
“Shahin was doing rehab so he wasn’t available for selection,” Waseem said.
“His injury isn’t bowling related, but…we don’t want to risk that injury getting worse.”
However, critics still had concerns about the Shah’s looks.
The Pakistan Test main fan was also dropped until last year for the home series against Australia this year, but made a comeback in July, taking nine wickets in two Tests in Sri Lanka.
Wassim said, “Yasser was not in the form we wanted in this series, so we chose the ascetic Mahmoud.”
Mahmood, 34, has played just four One Day Internationals and one T20 for Pakistan, but is yet to play a Test.
Another incomplete bowler, Abrar Ahmed El Faten, is also part of the squad after taking 43 wickets in domestic first-class matches.
“We have attached importance to the current level in our first year of class,” said Wasim.
Basir Muhammad Ali, with 24 domestic first-class wickets this season, is another new name in the squad, as is Haris Rauf, a star T20 fast bowler.
Former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has also returned to the squad based on his domestic form.
Star batsman Babbar Azam will captain the team.
Team: Babar Azam (Captain), Muhammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafiq, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Nawaz, Muhammad Wasim Jr., Nasim Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali. Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmoud.