The Pakistan Cricket Board on Friday announced the 29-member squad for the Test and T20 series against England to be played in August-September.
Haider Ali, the Pakistan U19 batsman, has been added to the squad after an outstanding 2019-20 season, following which he earned an emerging contract for the 2020-21 season.
Besides Ali, Sindh’s Kashif Bhatti is the other uncapped player in the side. Bhatti was in the Test squad against Australia and Sri Lanka but did not play and was also named in the probables for the Rawalpindi Test against Bangladesh.
Returning to the squad is fast bowler Sohail Khan, whose ninth and last Test for Pakistan was the 2016 Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Other centrally contracted players’ names for the England tour include Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Imran Khan, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz.
The selectors have also named four reserves in Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz as a cover in case any of the players fail pre-tour COVID-19 testing, which will be carried out on June 20 and 25.
Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir, and middle-order batsman Haris Sohail were not available for selection. Hasan is suffering from a back injury, Amir withdrew so that he can be at the birth of his second child in August while Haris took the option of pulling out of the tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking about the squad, chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said, “The selectors have picked a squad which gives us the best chance of success in England. It was a challenging process as the players have not played for an extended period, but with the month that we will have in England and the intense training we will undergo, we are confident we will get the players up to the mark to be ready for the three Tests.”
He added the main focus of the selectors has been red-ball cricket, which they will play for nearly two months.
“The series against England will be challenging as our players have not played any competitive cricket since March, while the home team will come following a series against the West Indies. This means we will have to hit the ground running as soon as we land in England and make the best use of the training sessions and match practice before we enter the first Test,” he said.
“The players have also been selected with one eye on the future. I want these players to acquire as much cricket knowledge as possible from the additional backroom staff of Mushtaq Ahmed and Younis Khan that can help them post the England tour,” the former captain said.
Misbah added, “Sohail Khan has been recalled to further strengthen our fast bowling department. He had two five-fors when he last played in England in 2016. The selectors also felt he bowled much better in the 2019-20 domestic season than his figures reflected.”
Squad for England tour:
Openers – Abid Ali (Sindh, Lahore Qalandars), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore Qalandars), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan, Peshawar Zalmi) and Shan Masood (Southern Punjab, Multan Sultans)
Middle-order batsmen – Azhar Ali (captain) (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (Test vice-captain and T20I captain) (Central Punjab, Karachi Kings), Asad Shafiq (Sindh, Multan Sultans), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Haider Ali (Northern, Peshawar Zalmi), Iftikhar Ahmad (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi Kings), Khushdil Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Multan Sultans), Mohammad Hafeez (Southern Punjab, Lahore Qalandars), and Shoaib Malik (Southern Punjab, Peshawar Zalmi)
Wicketkeepers – Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi Kings) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators)
Fast bowlers – Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab, Islamabad United), Haris Rauf (Northern, Lahore Qalandars), Imran Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators), Naseem Shah (Central Punjab, Quetta Gladiators), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Northern, Lahore Qalandars), Sohail Khan (Sindh, Quetta Gladiators), Usman Shinwari (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore Qalandars) and Wahab Riaz (Southern Punjab, Peshawar Zalmi)
Spinners – Imad Wasim (Northern, Karachi Kings), Kashif Bhatti (Sindh), Shadab Khan (Northern, Islamabad United) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan, Peshawar Zalmi).