Pakistan pick rookie, 36, with 598 first-class wickets for Proteas Test series
JOHANNESBURG - Pakistan’s selectors named nine uncapped players in an extended 20-man squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa.
The squad will be cut to 16 players, and go into a bio secure environment on January 19.
After their disappointing tour to New Zealand, where they lost both Tests - the first in the final hour at Mt. Manganui - the selection panel, chaired by Mohammad Wasim, who played 18 Tests, wielded the axe, culling batsmen and bowlers, while restoring Babar Azam to the captaincy.
Babar missed the Tests in New Zealand with a fractured thumb, but has resumed batting in the last week.
The squad contains three spinners, including the wrist-spinner, Yasir Shah, while all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz also bowls left-arm spin. Faheem Ashraf’s medium pace will supplement the four fast bowlers, which will be led by left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The selection of so many new faces is based on good performances in the domestic four-day competition according to the selection panel, although in the case of opener Abdullah Shafique, that is stretching things a bit, given that he has played just one first class match, admittedly making 133 in December 2019.
What is clear from a Pakistan Cricket Board statement in which the squad was announced, is that, Wasim and his selectors had run out of patience with the players who’d failed in New Zealand
“Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Shan Masood have been dropped due to inconsistent performances,” Wasim said about the bowler and the two batsmen.
Sohail scored just 28 runs in four innings against New Zealand, Shan scored 10 in the first innings of the first Test and three ducks thereafter, while Abbas, known for his accuracy and skill, picked up just four wickets in 76 overs against the Black Caps.
Pakistan have chosen a bowler of similar abilities according to Wasim, in the shape of 36 year old Tabish Khan who has taken 598 first class wickets in 137 matches but has yet to be capped in any format at international level. “Tabish Khan has been preferred ... as he is more effective and useful in Pakistan conditions,” said Wasim.
“Like Mohammad Abbas, Tabish is a workhorse, who can bowl long spells with controlled line and length. His 598 career first-class wickets, including 30 wickets this season, is a testament that he is a like-to-like replacement for Mohammad Abbas in the given conditions.
Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafiq, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali-Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, MOhammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan,