Karachi: Opener Shan Masood and medium pacer Mohammad Abbas has been dropped for the Test series against South Africa while eight players have received maiden-call ups.
Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim announced the squad at National Stadium, Karachi where Pakistan will take on South Africa in the first Test from January 26. A 16-member squad will be named closer to the start of the first Test.
Middle-order batsman Haris Sohail, emerging pacer Naseem Shah, spinner Zafar Gohar, pacer Sohail Khan have also been sidelined while white-ball vice-captain Shadab Khan and opener Imam-ul-Haq missed out due to injuries.
Abdullah Shafique, Kamran Ghulam, Agha Salman, Nauman Ali, Saud Shakeel, Sajid Khan, Tabish Khan, Haris Rauf are the players, who have earned maiden call-ups while Hasan Ali and Mohammad Nawaz have returned on the basis of performances in the Quaid-e-Azam (QeA) Trophy.
Wasim while announcing the squad, showed the stats of players and also revealed the basis of exclusions and inclusions.
“We reviewed the New Zealand series in detail while also tried to identify current challenges and improvement areas,” Wasim said.
“The names are shortlisted as they are the possible options. We also reached out to excluded players and shared the reasons and told them the follow-up plans,” he added.
“During selection, we consulted with the coaches of domestic teams, captain, coaching staff and prepared the final list of players,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, he also congratulated all the uncapped players. “I want to congratulate all the uncapped players who have made it to the 20-player Pakistan Test squad. These nine players are now just a step away from representing Pakistan in the pinnacle format of the game,” he said.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict Covid-19 protocols. This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket,” he added.
Wasim also explained why some players were preferred for the Test series. “The horses for courses policy means performers like left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, off-spinner Sajid Shah, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan will be available.”
“Wrist spinner Zahid Mahmood had a strong case after an excellent season, but we decided against going into the series with all four inexperienced spinners. Yasir Shah understands the pressures of international cricket and is familiar with the demands, challenges, and expectations of the purest format of the game.
“Tabish Khan has been preferred over Sohail Khan as he is more effective and useful in Pakistan conditions. 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.
Babar Azam (capt), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Tabish Khan