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New faces included, Shaheen and Hassan Ali return as Pakistan announce squad for Sri Lanka Tour 

CricketNew faces included, Shaheen and Hassan Ali return as Pakistan announce squad for Sri Lanka Tour 

Lahore: Pacer bowler Shaheen Afridi returns to Pakistan’s Test squad for the two-match away series against Sri Lanka next month as PCB announced the squad for the tour with two new faces in the squad . 

The Pakistan selection committee has included uncapped batter Mohammad Huraira and all-rounder Aamir Jamal in the 16-member squad for what will be Pakistan’s first assignment in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi and Shan Masood

The squad has been designed keeping in mind the conditions that the team will encounter in Sri Lanka. The team boasts four spinners, four fast bowlers, six specialist batters and two keeper-batters, PCb statement said.

Shaheen is one wicket away from reaching a century of Test wickets and no Pakistan bowler has picked up more wickets than him since the left-armer made his debut on 3 December 2018. Shaheen, 23, averages 24.86 and has an economy of 3.04.

Expressing his pleasure to be back in the Test side, Shaheen said, “I am very excited to be returning to the Pakistan Test side after a year. I dearly missed Test cricket and it was tough for me to be away from this format”.

“After missing our entire home season because of the injury I suffered in Sri Lanka, I am eager to make an impactful comeback in the same country and complete a century of wickets in Test cricket. I want to thank my fans who have provided me support in tough times and I am ready for the challenges ahead.”

Huraira has played 24 first-class, 10 List A and six T20s and he has earned the spot after an impressive run. He was the leading run-scorer in the last two iterations of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. In the 2022-23 edition, the 21-year-old, who hails from Sialkot, was the only batter to breach the 1000-run mark, playing an integral role in helping Northern to maiden first-class title. In 11 matches, Huraira smashed four centuries and two half-centuries on his way to 1,024 runs at an average of 73.14.

He continued his first-class form on the tour of Zimbabwe last month scoring 178 and 64 against Zimbabwe A at Kwekwe and Mutare.

He holds the record for being the second youngest batter to score a first-class triple-century in Pakistan, behind legendary Javed Miandad. Huraira achieved the feat in the 2021-22 season, hitting 311 off 343 in Northern’s thumping win of an innings and 170 runs over Balochistan at the State Bank Ground, Karachi.

Huraira will be joined by his Northern and Shaheens’ teammate Aamir. The 27-year-old, who hails from Mianwali, topped the wicket-takers chart for the fast bowlers in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23, taking 31 scalps at 29.71 and recorded two five-wicket hauls. He was the leading wicket-taker in the recent six-match One-Day series between Zimbabwe Select and Pakistan Shaheens with 16 dismissals at an average of 21.

Aamir’s career’s highlight, however, was defending 15 runs in the last over against England’s Moeen Ali on his Pakistan debut in September last year. Aamir’s immaculate death bowling helped Pakistan to a thrilling six-run win over England in the fifth T20 International of the seven-match series. Aamir has the experience of two T2oIs, 23 first-class, 23 List A and 20 T20s.

Reflecting on the squad, Haroon Rashid, the national men’s chief selector, said, “I want to congratulate all the players who have been selected in the side, especially Mohammad Huraira and Aamir Jamal who have pushed their case through impressive performances over a period of time.

“We have devised this squad with the conditions and challenges that our players will encounter in Sri Lanka. This is our first series of the third round of the ICC World Test Championship and this squad is fully capable of providing us a solid start.

“The conditions in Sri Lanka largely favour finger spinners – something that we have seen over the years and during Pakistan’s last visit to the island – so we have three such bowlers to go with the mystery spin of Abrar Ahmed. At the same time, we cannot overlook the need for fast bowlers and, as such, we have included four pacers so the captain and team management have ample resources on the tour. We boast a strong batting line-up, which I am confident will do well in the two matches.

“The players who have missed out on the selection should not get bogged down as they firmly remain part of our plans. We have an exciting and challenging season ahead of us and they should make the most of the opportunities in domestic cricket and Shaheens’ tours to keep themselves ready.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board has also announced the appointment of Morne Morkel as the national side’s bowling coach. The former South Africa pacer has joined the national side on a six-month contract. Over the course of his 11-year-long international career, Morkel took 309 wickets in 86 Tests, 188 wickets in 117 ODIs and 47 scalps in 44 T20Is. His last international game was in Lahore for World XI against Pakistan in September 2017.

Player support personnel: Rehan-ul-Haq (team manager), Grant Bradburn (head coach), Andrew Puttick (batting coach), Morne Morkel (bowling coach), Aftab Khan (fielding coach), Abdul Rehman (assistant coach), Drikus Saaiman (strength and conditioning coach), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Ahsan Iftikhar Nagi (media and digital content manager), Lt Col Usman Anwari (Retd) (security manager), Talha Ejaz (analyst) and Malang Ali (masseur).

Pakistan will assemble in Karachi on 3 July for a camp ahead of their departure for Sri Lanka on 9 July. The itinerary of the tour will be announced by Sri Lanka Cricket in due course.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka last played a Test series in July 2022 that was drawn 1-1.

Courtesy : PCB

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