ISLAMABAD (AP) Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq were among four uncapped players named in Pakistan’s 16-man test squad for next month’s tours of Ireland and England.
Batsmen Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali could also make their test debuts as Pakistan aims to rebuild its test team after the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
Pakistan suffered a blow when Yasir Shah was ruled out due to a stress fracture of his hip that knocked the star leg-spinner out of action for at least 10 weeks.
”Yasir’s absence is a big loss for us,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said Sunday.
”If we look at his numbers (of wickets) for the last two years, he has more wickets than any other bowler for Pakistan.”
Yasir has taken 164 wickets in 28 test matches since making his test debut in 2014 and has been instrumental in Pakistan’s success – especially in the United Arab Emirates.
”He was our strike bowler, all the games we’ve won he played a big part,” Inzamam said.
”I hope he recovers quickly from his injury because we have some big home test series coming up after this series too, and we will need him in the UAE.”
In the absence of Yasir, Pakistan’s spin workload with fall on Shadab Khan, who has performed well in limited-overs cricket but has played only one test match.
All-rounder Haris Sohail is the other spin option for Pakistan, who could bowl left-arm spin.
Faheem Ashraf is another all-rounder included, who could prove handy in batting down the order.
Batsman Saad is selected primarily on his form in the last Quaid-e-Azam trophy tournament, which is Pakistan’s premier four-day first class tournament.
Saad scored 935 runs at an impressive average of 68.35 in a season that was dominated by bowlers.
Inzamam said that the selectors have tried to strengthen Pakistan’s batting line-up and also wanted to give players a chance to experience English conditions ahead of next year’s World Cup.
”It’s an ideal opportunity for our batsmen to get used to English conditions because we have to play next year’s World Cup in England,” he said.
Ireland will be making its test debut against Pakistan at Dublin on May 11. The two test matches against England will be played on May 24-28 and June 1-5 at Lord’s in London and Headingley in Leeds, respectively.
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Sami Aslam, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Saad Ali, Usman Salahuddin, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali.