Pakistan on Wednesday announced they would retain off-spinning allrounder Bilal Asif for the one-day series against Zimbabwe to assess his potential ahead of next month’s series against England.
The 30-year-old was not played in the two Twenty20 match series which Pakistan won 2-0 in Harare on Tuesday. The three one-day internationals start from Thursday.
Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq wanted to see Asif in action ahead of the three-Test series against England in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The request to retain Asif had been made by the team management and in a separate discussion with Misbah, we decided to assess Asif as another spinning option against England,” Rasheed was quoted as saying in a Pakistan Cricket Board release.
“Misbah believes that since the England team contains five left-handed batsmen and because of (Mohammad) Hafeez’s inability to bowl at international level, we were left with no off-spin bowling options in the Test squad,” he added.
Pakistan already have leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar in their 15-man squad for England Tests which begin in Abu Dhabi on October 13.
A spin-heavy Pakistan attack was inevitable after their 3-0 rout of England, then ranked number one, the last time the two sides met in the UAE three years ago.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took 24 wickets while left-armer Abdur Rehman nabbed 19 wickets.
Ajmal was not selected for the upcoming series as he continues to struggle with a remodelled bowling action he was forced to devise after being suspended for chucking last year.
“Misbah suggested that since Asif is presently the standout available option in the domestic circuit and should be assessed in case we intend to add him as the 16th member in the Test squad against England.”
The other two Tests will be played in Dubai (October 22-26) and Sharjah (November 1-5), followed by four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals.