Lahore, Nov 22 () Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali on Monday were rewarded for their strong first-class performances with maiden call-ups to Pakistan’s Test squad for the upcoming home series against England.
In the 18-member Pakistan squad announced for three ICC World Test Championship matches against England in December, left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s name was absent as he was unavailable for selection.
On Sunday, Shaheen underwent appendicitis surgery, which PCB says will require three-four weeks’ rest following which he will resume his two-week rehabilitation on his right knee. Apart from him, Hasan Ali, Fawad Alam and Yasir Shah are not a part of the Test squad for the series against England.
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 in July. Hasan took five wickets in his last four Tests against Australia and Sri Lanka, while Yasir bagged nine wickets in Sri Lanka but has managed only 14 wickets in seven Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches till date.
Talking about the newbies in Pakistan’s Test squad, Abrar, 24, is in red-hot form in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Before the start of the last round on Sunday (November 20), 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 Sindh into serious contenders to secure a berth in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final.
Mohammad Ali has been the best fast bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in the last two editions, taking 56 wickets while playing for Central Punjab. 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.
“I want to congratulate all the players who have been selected for the historic Test series against England. We have selected this 18-man squad keeping in mind the form of the players, the conditions and the opposition.”
“This series has provided opportunities to Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Zahid Mehmood. Abrar has been on the radar since his debut first-class season in 2020-21.”
“He is in outstanding form this season, so it makes sense to make him available to Babar Azam so he can use the confidence and talent of this youngster in the upcoming series.”
“Mohammad Ali has shown great patience and control, and his numbers speak for his consistency. He has been our best fast bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 56 wickets at an average of 24 over the last two seasons,” said chief selector Muhammad Wasim.
Uncapped players, pacer Mohammad Wasim Jnr and leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood, who were part of the Test side for the three Tests against Australia earlier in the year at home, also make a return to the side.
“Zahid is another bowler who has been in the plans. He has shown improvement over the years and has been part of the successive squads. We have boosted our fast bowling stocks with the best available talent. There is no doubt about the skills of Mohammad Wasim Jnr.”
“He moves the new and old ball laterally at high pace, which is a huge plus for any side. 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,” added Wasim.
The three Tests between Pakistan and England are part of the ICC World Test Championship’s second cycle and are scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi (December 1-5), Multan (December 9-13) and Karachi (December 17-21).
The upcoming series against England is Pakistan’s fifth in the current WTC cycle – their last series will be the two Tests against New Zealand in December 2022 and January 2023. These three Tests will be England’s final appearance in the second edition of the World Test Championship.
Pakistan squad for England Tests: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.