Pakistan's players attend a practice session at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Pakistan on Sunday announced a 17-member squad for the first of the two-Test home series against South Africa beginning Tuesday at the National Stadium.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) selectors had initially announced 20 players for the two-Test series but trimmed the squad to 17 for the first Test at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Abdullah Shafique, Kamran Ghulam and Salman Ali Agha — who were named in the 20-member initial squad — have been left out of the probables for the first Test which starts on Tuesday. However, the three players will continue to be part of the squad and will feature in warm-up and training sessions at the National Stadium.
Pakistan's team members gather before a practice session at the National Stadium. AFP
According to the PCB, Abid Ali and Imran Butt have been picked as openers while Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, and Saud Shakeel are in for middle-order batting.
Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Nawaz have been picked for the all-rounders' slot. Both Mohammad Rizwan and Sarfaraz Ahmed will be available as wicket-keeper for the first Test.
Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan will partner Yasir Shah in the spin department, while the fast bowling line-up includes Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi and Tabish Khan, alongside Hasan Ali.
"We know the home conditions and we have a chance here to play good cricket and win,” head coach Misbah-ul Haq said during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
Pakistan has lost only two out of 44 test matches played at the National Stadium and one of those defeats came against South Africa when it last toured in 2007. England is the only other team that has won in Karachi when it beat Pakistan by six wickets in 2000.
After the second Test which will be played in Rawalpindi from Feb.4-8, the two teams will compete in three T20 Internationals in Lahore on Feb.1, 13 and 14.
The last time the two teams met in Pakistan was in 2007 when South Africa beat the hosts 1-0 in a two-match Test series. South Africa are the fourth country to tour Pakistan in the last 15 months after Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Squad: Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, 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 Cricket South Africa on Sunday informed that the Proteas team members have tested negative for the novel coronavirus in the first round of testing conducted upon their arrival in Karachi.
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.
"We have selected a squad after analysing the performance in New Zealand and areas of improvement are identified." 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.
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