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Saturday Sep 23 2017

Five uncapped players in Pakistan squad for Sri Lanka Tests

LAHORE: The Test squad for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka was announced on Saturday, comprising five uncapped players including fast bowler Mir Hamza.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who put to rest fitness concerns after he nailed the fitness tests on Saturday, was selected in the squad, along with Azhar Ali, who has been struggling with a troubled knee but was cleared to play with the help of injections. 

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, addressing a press conference, announced the names of the 16 players in the squad, which includes a combination of five fast bowlers and two specialist spinners.

Batsmen Haris Sohail and Usman Salahuddin have both played one-day internationals for Pakistan but are yet to make their Test debuts.

Spin-bowling all-rounder Bilal Asif and left-arm Mohammad Asghar were the other players in the squad yet to play in Tests.

The chief selector said he wants to give maximum opportunity to youngsters to showcase their talent in the series.

25-year-old Mir Hamza from Karachi has an impressive record of 216 wickets in 46 first-class matches which he has played during the last four years.

Mir Hamza removed Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow with successive deliveries, Pakistan A v England XI, Sharjah, Tour match, 2nd day, October 9, 2015/Getty Images 

A notable, albeit surprising, inclusion in the Test squad is of 31-year old all-rounder Bilal Asif, who has only 15 first-class matches to his name. He has also represented Pakistan in three ODIs.

Bilal Asif (L)/file photo

About Yasir Shah, Inzamam said the spinner would prove to be ideal in UAE conditions.

“Yasir Shah has been our best bowler over the recent years,” he said.

Young spinner Shadab Khan and veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez were omitted from the squad. Opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad also failed to impress selectors with his performance in first-class cricket last season.

The first Test starts in Abu Dhabi from Thursday. The second Test -- a day-night affair -- will be played in Dubai from October 6.

The two teams will also play five one-day internationals and three Twenty20s, the last of which is scheduled to be in Lahore on October 29.

The series will be Pakistan´s first without stalwarts Younis Khan and former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who both retired following the team´s last series in the West Indies in May.

Sarfraz Ahmed, already leading Pakistan in ODIs and T20 internationals, will lead the Test side for the first time, with youngsters Usman Salahuddin and Babar Azam likely to fill in for the two greats.

"I am sure youngsters will try their best to fill the places left by Misbah and Younis and do their best," said Inzamam.

Squad: Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain, wicketkeeper), Usman Salahuddin, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Abbas, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza and Wahab Riaz.

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