Pakistan announce squad for test series against Sri Lanka
Lahore, Sep 23 (Cricketnmore) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday named uncapped pacer Mir Hamza and all-rounder Bilal Asif, while dropping Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Rizwan from the 16-man squad for the upcoming two-Test series, starting in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Gearing up for their first Test since the retirement of former skipper Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan, Pakistan's fortunes in the middle order will depend on Test debutants Haris Sohail and Usman Salahuddin.
Both Haris and Usman have represented the country in coloured outfit.
"I have been thinking of both Usman and Haris over the last few series, envisaging the situation after seniors (retired). The idea is to give our youngsters an opportunity in our own conditions rather than playing them in away series," Pakistan chief selector Inzamam ul Haq said.
"This will increase their confidence and both have the potential to fill in for Younis and Misbah.
Yasir Shah and Azhar Ali were both included in the squad despite some doubt about their participation in the run-up to the announcement.
Azhar, Pakistan's most successful Test batsman over the last year or so, was in doubt with a knee problem and he sat out a two-day practice match at the camp.
Yasir, on the other hand, had to clear a fitness test after head coach Mickey Arthur made it mandatory for all national players to maintain a minimum level of fitness.
"We want to maintain our standard on fitness and we told Yasir to make it or it would be impossible for us to select him," Haq said after the announcement was delayed by a day to allow Yasir to pass the test.
"Yasir's success over the last three-four years has been great but we don't want to create an exception on fitness. So we waited a day, and that is why we are announcing the team today, on the day of the team's departure. Yasir is cleared now, having scored a value of 17.5".
Pakistan named five fast bowlers and three specialist spinners, a move Inzamam said was aimed at managing the workload of the bowlers who are better on flat tracks in the UAE.
Squad: Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain, WK), Yasir Shah, Mohammad Asghar, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz.