Babar Azam gestures after celebrating his century during a Test match. File
Gulf Today Report
Pakistan has named nine uncapped players for their “stellar performances” in domestic cricket by including them in the 20-member squad for the two-match home Test series against South Africa that starts later this month.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) dropped batsmen Shan Masood and Haris Sohail along with fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah due to inconsistent performances.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali has regained fitness from his back problem and returns two years after last playing a test match against South Africa in 2019. Ali impressed selectors with his stellar performance this season in domestic cricket where he took 43 wickets and also scored 273 runs.
Mohammad Wasim (C) and other PCB officials during a meeting in Lahore. Twitter photo
PCB new chief selector Mohammad Wasim said on Friday that he wanted to reward rookie players like batsman Kamran Ghulam and fast bowler Tabish Khan for their consistent performances in domestic cricket.
Ghulam topped the scoring chart in this season’s premier first class tournament by scoring 1,249 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
"Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imran Butt, middle-order batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel, spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan have been rewarded for their stellar performances in the 2020-21 domestic season, including the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy," Wasim said.
The 36-year-old Tabish Khan made his first-class debut in the 2002-03 season and has taken 598 wickets including 30 this season.
"Tabish Khan is more effective and useful in Pakistan conditions,” Wasim said. "Tabish is a workhorse who can bowl long spells with controlled line and length. He is a like-to-like replacement for Mohammad Abbas in the given conditions.”
"We have selected a squad after analysing the performance in New Zealand and areas of improvement are identified."
Wasim said Naseem and Abbas were not up to the mark in New Zealand. "Both Naseem and Abbas were lacking that bite so we have not included them in the squad which will be trimmed to 16 before the Test," said Wasim.
The changes were forced after Pakistan lost both Tests on their tour of New Zealand where they failed in all three departments of the game.
Opener Masood had managed just 33 runs in the last eight Test innings since scoring 156 against England in August, failing miserably in New Zealand where he scored just 10 in two matches with three zeros.
Left hander Sohail managed just 28 in two Tests in New Zealand. The 17-year-old Naseem and spearhead Abbas both managed just four wickets in the series.
Left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar is the fifth player dropped from the last Test at Christchurch, which Pakistan lost by an innings and 176 runs earlier this month.
The PCB said that all 20 players now move into a bio-secure bubble in Karachi, which hosts the first test from Jan.26.
South Africa will arrive early on Saturday and after a five-day quarantine play the first Test in Karachi from Jan.26. The second Test will be in Rawalpindi from Feb.4 before three Twenty20 internationals on Feb.11, 13 and 14 — all in Lahore.
More consideration was given to performers of the just concluded domestic first-class matches from where six uncapped players — Kamran Ghulam (batsman), Saud Shakil (batsman), Nauman Ali (left-arm spinner), Sajid Khan (off-spinner) Tabish Khan (fast bowler) and Agha Salman (batsman) — are selected.
Ghulam, 25, created a new record for most runs in a Quaid-e-Azam trophy tournament with 1,249 while Sajid took the most wickets with 67.
Babar Azam (capt), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan.
The home team had won the toss and batted on a flat, brownish Rawalpindi Stadium pitch, which helped spinners from the outset, but Pakistan recovered from the early loss of three wickets.
South Africa were in trouble at 106-4 after the second day's play on a tricky Rawalpindi stadium pitch, trailing Pakistan's first innings total of 272 by 166 runs. Earlier, Nortje grabbed his third five-wicket haul with 5-56 to restrict Pakistan's total.
Resuming at 33-4, Pakistan's recovery was led by Fawad Alam (109), Faheem Ashraf (64) and Azhar Ali (51). South Africa were all out for 220 in their first innings.
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