Saturday Dec 07, 2019
Fawad Alam was the notable induction as Pakistan's head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq on Saturday announced the national team's Test squad for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.
Alam, who last played the last of his three Tests in 2009, has finally been rewarded for his rich vein of form in domestic circuit. He was selected in place of Iftikhar Ahmed, who was unable to make an impact in the Test series in Australia recently.
"We needed someone at number six and Fawad Alam [fits the bill]. His selection is not based on just one year. It is an accumulation of his performances over five to six years. He has a career average of 57 and is in great form right now as well," the coach said, adding that there were only two changes to the squad.
"Dropping Iftikhar was a difficult decision. He had been doing well in white-ball cricket but it does not mean that we are cutting him out for good. Whenever we need him, we will call him back."
"The other change is Usman Shinwari. We have struggled a little bit with bowling and Usman's bowling and energy, even on flat pitches here, has been good."
Misbah, before announcing the squad, also clarified that contrary to popular belief, he does not select the squad unilaterally and that the roster is assembled after thorough consultation.
"The perception is that there is a one-man show going on here. It is not like this at all. There are six selectors all of who have their say," he said.
His remarks were backed up by selection committee coordinator Nadeem Khan, who said that the revamped model where domestic team's coaches double as selectors, means that "local talent is being monitored with two different perspectives."
Misbah, whose young roster failed miserably in Australia last month, defended his policy, saying that there was no choice but to induct young blood as the team was without several seniors and regulars.
"Two seniors (Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz) had quit the format while Hassan Ali and Faheem Ashraf were injured so we had no choice," he said.
He also asked critics for more time and patience to turn around the team's fortunes, explaining that "I do not have a magic wand which I will wave and everything will get better. However, if after being given a reasonable time things do not improve then of course everyone should be held accountable."
In addition to naming a 16-man squad, Misbah said that young pacer Muhammad Musa Khan will also be with the squad and work with bowling coach Waqar Younis. He will not be a part of the playing group.
The islanders are scheduled to play a two-match Test series in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Usman Shinwari