Former captain Sarfraz Ahmed has made a comeback in the national team as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Friday announced 29-player squad for three Tests and three T20Is against England to be played in August-September.
According to an official press release by the PCB, Haider Ali, the Pakistan U19 batsman and one of the players to watch-out for, has been named in the squad.
An extended squad, including white-ball specialists, is being sent to England as the players, in accordance with series SOPs in the wake of Covid-19, will remain in England from start to finish.
Haider had an outstanding 2019-20 season, following which he earned an emerging contract for the 2020-21 season.
He was Pakistan U19’s second most successful batsman with 317 runs against South Africa U19 in June, fifth leading run-getter with 218 runs in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup in Bangladesh, aggregated 645 runs – including a century in the final – at just under 50 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, finished as Pakistan’s third-best batsman with 107 runs in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 before contributing 239 runs in nine matches at a strike-rate of over 158 for Peshawar Zalmi in the unfinished HBL Pakistan Super League 2020.
Besides Haider, Sindh’s Kashif Bhatti is the other uncapped player in the side. Kashif was in the Test squad against Australia and Sri Lanka but did not play and was also named in the probables for the Rawalpindi Test against Bangladesh.
Returning to the national colours is fast bowler Sohail Khan, whose ninth and last Test for Pakistan was the 2016 Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2019-20, he took 22 wickets in nine matches, while he grabbed seven wickets in eight HBL PSL 2020 matches for Quetta Gladiators.
Apart from Haider, Kashif, Sohail and the centrally contracted players, excluding Haris Sohail, the selectors have named Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Imran Khan, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz.
The selectors have also named four reserves in Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz as a cover in case any of the players fail pre-tour Covid-19 testing, which will be carried out on 20 and 25 June.
Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir, and middle-order batsman Haris were not available for selection. Hasan is suffering from a back injury, Amir withdrew so that he can be at the birth of his second child in August while Haris took the option of pulling out of the tour due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The breakdown of the 29-player squad is:
Openers (4) – Abid Ali (Sindh, Lahore Qalandars), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore Qalandars), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan, Peshawar Zalmi) and Shan Masood (Southern Punjab, Multan Sultans)
Middle-order batsmen (9) – Azhar Ali (captain) (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (Test vice-captain and T20I captain) (Central Punjab, Karachi Kings), Asad Shafiq (Sindh, Multan Sultans), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Haider Ali (Northern, Peshawar Zalmi), Iftikhar Ahmad (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi Kings), Khushdil Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Multan Sultans), Mohammad Hafeez (Southern Punjab, Lahore Qalandars) and Shoaib Malik (Southern Punjab, Peshawar Zalmi)
Wicketkeepers (2) – Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi Kings) and Sarfraz Ahmed (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators)
Fast bowlers (10) – Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab, Islamabad United), Haris Rauf (Northern, Lahore Qalandars), Imran Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators), Naseem Shah (Central Punjab, Quetta Gladiators), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Northern, Lahore Qalandars), Sohail Khan (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators), Usman Shinwari (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore Qalandars) and Wahab Riaz (Southern Punjab, Peshawar Zalmi)
Spinners (4) – Imad Wasim (Northern, Karachi Kings), Kashif Bhatti (Sindh), Shadab Khan (Northern, Islamabad United) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan, Peshawar Zalmi).