The PCB on Monday announced an 18-member squad for the upcoming Test series against England with Pakistan’s top paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi ruled out due to the recent injury and following surgery.
Muhammad Wasim, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector, made the announcement at a press conference at Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The matches are scheduled at Rawalpindi (December 1-5), Multan (December 9-13) and Karachi (December 17-21).
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. He 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.
Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali have been rewarded for their strong first-class performances with maiden Test call-ups.
Abrar, 24, 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 Jr 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.
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.