Test squad announced: Hafeez, Taufeeq and Zulfiqar return

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 7:22:26 by

KARACHI: The national selection committee, led by Moin Khan, has announced a 16-member squad for the first Test against Australia, which will be played from October 22 to October 26 at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.

The squad includes uncapped pacer Imran Khan and leg-spinner Yasir Shah, while Haris Sohail has also been included. There are a total of six changes to the squad that toured Sri Lanka in August as Abdur Rehman, Junaid Khan, Khurram Manzoor, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz have all missed out on selection due to different reasons, while Muhammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar and Zulfiqar Babar have been recalled into the side.

“The side has been picked after consultation with captain Misbahul Haq and head coach Waqar Younis, and there is complete agreement that these are the best available players to represent Pakistan in the first Test against a formidable second-ranked Australia side,” said Moin. “It’s a nice blend of experience and youth. The squad has been selected keeping in mind next year’s ICC World Cup. While the series will provide an excellent opportunity to the youngsters to test and hone their skills at the highest level against a highly competitive Australian side, it will also provide a good chance to our experienced players to return to their best form.”

Inexperienced bowling

The Pakistan bowling attack will feature several unfamiliar faces as fast-bowlers Junaid and Wahab have been ruled out of the side through injury, while Ajmal is suspended for an illegal bowling action.

“The bowling is relatively inexperienced due to the unavailability of Junaid, Wahab and Ajmal,” admitted Moin. “However, this is an opportunity for the likes of Imran, Rahat, Ehsan, Talha and Zulfiqar to prove their mettle against some of the best. They are extremely talented bowlers with a promising future.”

Moin also explained the decision to rest pacer Muhammad Irfan.

“The selectors considered Muhammad Irfan but decided not to include him in order to preserve him for the World Cup, which is just four months away. The selectors believe he will be a formidable force on the hard and bouncy Australian pitches.”

The squad for the first Test also includes eight players who represented the Pakistan A side that defeated Australians in Sharjah by a comfortable 153-run margin.

Taufeeq, Hafeez to provide experience

Moin added that Taufeeq and Hafeez have been recalled into the side due to their experience, stating that Taufeeq has hit seven centuries and has an average of just under 39 in 43 Tests, while also having the experience of playing against Australia and in UAE conditions.

“Hafeez has been recalled as he is an experienced player,” said Moin. “In the absence of Ajmal, Hafeez provides an extra spin option. When you combine Taufeeq and Hafeez, between them they have played 79 Tests and scored 5,117 runs with 12 centuries.”

One player to return home

Moin also revealed that four openers have been included in the squad as the selection committee is yet to finalise the opening combination for the first Test. As soon as the combination is finalised, the opener that will not be part of the Test side will be released so that he can return to Pakistan and participate in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy.

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Karachi News Sources -2

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