(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Mon 20 Nov 2023, 5:32 PM
Fast bowler Haris Rauf pulled out of the Pakistan team and three uncapped players were named Monday in an 18-member squad for the test tour of Australia.
Left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub, fast bowler Khurram Shahzad and allrounder Amir Jamal got their maiden call-ups after an impressive run in recent cricket tournaments.
Newly appointed chief selector Wahab Riaz said Rauf was in the plans for Pakistan's three test matches in Australia, but the express fast bowler pulled out on Sunday night despite confirming his availability two days ago.
“He (Rauf) gave his consent, but later he changed his mind because he was worried about his fitness and the workload,” Riaz said in Lahore while announcing the squad.“His absence will affect the team combination.”
Riaz said the medical panel of the Pakistan Cricket Board informed him that there were no fitness issues with Rauf and he could play test matches. The chief selector and team director Mohammad Hafeez later sat together with Rauf, but the fast bowler pulled out at the last moment.
“I was even ready to facilitate him had he not performed in Australia, but he didn't agree,” Riaz said.
Three front-line fast bowlers - Naseem Shah, Ihsanullah and Mohammad Hasnain - all were ruled out of the tour because of injuries.
The selectors have named Shahzad, a 23-year-old fast bowler, alongside experienced bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali. Jamal, who has represented Pakistan in T20s against England, is in the squad as a seam-bowling allrounder.
Left-arm fast bowler Mir Hamza, who picked up 32 wickets this season in Pakistan's premier first-class tournament - the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy - and right-arm pacer Mohammad Wasim return to the test squad.
Pakistan has revamped its national team after making an early exit from the Cricket World Cup in India, where it finished fifth in the 10-team event.
Babar Azam stepped down from the captaincy and left-handed opening batter Shan Masood will lead the test side in Australia after he was appointed until the end of the World Test Championship cycle of 2023-25.
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in its opening WTC test series in Sri Lanka, but it will be a huge task for Masood in testing Australian conditions when Pakistan plays in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
“We have kept the (Australian) pitches in mind and added more pace bowling resources to the team to ensure that the management can be flexible with the team combinations,” Riaz said.
Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and left-arm spinner Noman Ali are the two specialist slow bowlers in the squad.
Pakistan's team will have a training camp in Rawalpindi starting Thursday before the team flies out to Australia from Lahore on Nov. 30. Squad:
Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam
Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Afridi.
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