In preparation for their upcoming Test series against Australia, Pakistan has announced the inclusion of opening batter Saim Ayub and fast bowler Khurram Shahzad in their squad, both potentially making their Test debuts. Led by newly-appointed red-ball captain Shan Masood, Pakistan is set to play three Tests in Perth (December 14-18), Melbourne (December 26-30), and Sydney (January 3-7).
The 21-year-old Saim Ayub, who has already featured in eight T20Is for Pakistan, brings impressive first-class credentials to the Test team, boasting 1069 runs at an average of 46.47. His recent standout performances include scores of 203 and 109 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final in October.
Khurram Shahzad, a promising fast bowler, earned his spot based on stellar form, finishing as the leading wicket-taker in the 2023-24 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 36 wickets at an average of 20.30.
Mir Hamza, the left-arm quick, has been recalled after an excellent Quaid-e-Azam Trophy campaign, where he was the second-highest wicket-taker with 32 wickets at an average of 20.87. Seam-bowling allrounder Faheem Ashraf also returns to the squad, having last played a Test in December 2022.
However, Pakistan’s pace attack will miss the services of Haris Rauf, who opted out of selection, along with the ongoing recovery of Naseem Shah from a shoulder injury. Chief selector Wahab Riaz expressed disappointment over Rauf’s decision, stating, “Haris pulled out at the last moment, and I feel this will hurt Pakistan cricket.”
The complete Pakistan squad for the Australia Test series includes Shan Masood (capt), Aamer Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Nauman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, and Shaheen Afridi.
The series is anticipated to be a challenging test for the Pakistani side, with the inclusion of young talents reflecting the team’s commitment to building for the future.
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