Five new players in team for Lanka tour

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LAHORE, Sept 23 ( APP): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Saturday
included five new players in the 16-member Test squad for the two-match home series
against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), commencing later this month.
Batsmen Haris Sohail and Usman Salahuddin though have played
One-day Internationals (ODIs) for the national team, yet they have
to make their Test debuts as the green caps will play this series
without retired batting greats Misbah-ul Haq and Younus Khan, who
retired from international cricket in the last Test series against
the West Indies in May.
Opener Sami Aslam, who last played a Test for Pakistan in December,
was also recalled. Left-arm fast bowler Mir Hamza, 25, was picked for
his strong domestic form, having claimed 216 wickets in 46 first-class matches.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Bilal Asif and left-arm M Asghar
were the other players in the squad yet to play in Tests.
Talking to reporters after announcing the Test squad, chief selector
Inzamam-ul Haq said here that Younus and Misbah were great players and it would take
some time to replace them in the batting order but this was a phase that all teams faced
and moved ahead.
“We are providing maximum opportunities to our promising youngsters
and that’s why we have given chance to Usman Salahuddin and Haris Sohail
in the Test squad. I wanted to give them an opportunity in home conditions to boost
their confidence. We are hopeful they can fulfill the spots left by the retirements.”
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah and top-order batsman Azhar Ali have both battled
recent injuries but were declared fit and named in the squad. “Yasir was supposed to
undergo a fitness test but he had pulled a calf muscle,” Inzamam said. “He’s taken the
Test this morning and been passed fit.”
Inzamam said Yasir Shah was told in clear terms that he would not be
selected if he didn’t pass the final fitness test. “Yasir has been our main bowler for the
way he has taken wickets consistently, but he needed to maintain a fitness standard and
was told he had to pass the test and he did to get a place in the squad,” the chief
selector said.
About Azhar Ali, the former captain said: “Azhar has a cyst in his
knee and the doctors have advised him to play after taking an injection.
He isn’t experiencing any pain, so we’re hoping he’ll remain fit to play.”
The series, played in the UAE due to security concerns, will start with
the first Test in Abu Dhabi from Thursday followed by Sri Lanka’s maiden day-night Test
in Dubai from October 6. The two teams will also play five One-day Internationals and
three Twenty20 matches, the last of which will be played on home soil in Lahore on
October 29, subject to security clearance.
Inzamam said usually UAE has batting pitches and it was not easy bowling
out a side twice in a Test match. “And the weather is also pretty hot that is why we have
decided to take a strong bowling line-up. We might even rotate our pace bowlers,” he
added.
The former captain said Ahmed Shehzad was not considered for the Tests
as the selectors wanted to give exposure to the youngsters, who had been with the
team on recent tours but didn’t get a chance to play.
Test squad: Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq,
Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Sarfraz Ahmed (Capt, wk), M Aamir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan
Ali, M Abbas, Mir Hamza, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, M Asghar.