Pakistan pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out while leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali received their maiden Test call-ups as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday announced the 18-player squad for the upcoming Test series against England.
Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed also returned to the side following his recent performance in the domestic circuit.
Abrar and Ali have been rewarded for their “strong first-class performances,” said PCB Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim, according to a handout released by the cricket board.
Uncapped Mohammad Wasim Jr and Zahid Mehmood, who were part of the Test side against Australia earlier this year, were also included in the squad.
“I want to congratulate all the players who have been selected for the historic Test series against England. We have selected this 18-man squad keeping in mind the form of the players, the conditions and the opposition,” Wasim told reporters.
The chief selector said the Pakistan-England series had provided opportunities to Abrar, Ali, Wasim Jr and Zahid Mehmood. “Abrar has been on the radar since his debut first-class season in 2020-21,” he said.
There are also four notable exclusions from the squad — Shaheen, Hasan Ali, Fawad Alam and Yasir Shah — who were part of the Sri Lanka Test series earlier this year.
Shaheen underwent surgery on Sunday and was unavailable for selection. According to today’s PCB handout, Shaheen will require three-four weeks’ rest following which he will resume his two-week rehabilitation on his right knee.
For the first time since 2005, England are set to tour Pakistan for a Test series in December. The tour opens with the first Test in Rawalpindi between December 1-5, before Multan hosts the second between December 9-13. The third and final Test will be in Karachi on December 17-21.
The three fixtures will count towards the ICC World Test Championship. Pakistan are currently fifth in the table and England seventh.
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.