Monday, November 20, 2023
Chief selector Wahab Riaz Monday announced an 18-member Pakistan Test squad for the tour to Australia comprising three matches scheduled from December 14, 2023, to January 7, 2024.
This will be Wahab's first assignment since he took charge of the national men’s selection committee last week, while the same applies to Shan Masood — who was picked as captain after Babar Azam resigned.
Masood has been named Pakistan's captain for the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle after taking over the reins from Babar following a humiliating World Cup campaign.
Riaz, in his maiden press conference as chief selector, said pacer Haris Rauf had assured the cricket board that he would play Test cricket for the national side, but yesterday, he informed the management that he does not want to be part of this series.
"It is important to inform you about this because people should have clarity about what's goining on," Riaz told journalists, highlighting that Rauf had concerns about whether he would have fitness issues if he partook in the tour.
"We have tried facilitating him in every way. Even if he failed in this tour, I was ready to accept it. Our fitness consultant told us that he [Rauf] would not have any issues moving forward."
"We could have managed the issues [...] but he pulled out at the last moment. I believe this will be a set back to Pakistan," the chief selector explained.
Left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub has earned his maiden call-up to the Test team after an impressive run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24.
The 22-year-old scored 553 runs in four matches for Karachi Whites and had three centuries to his name, including a match-winning double-century against Faisalabad in the final of the tournament. He continued his form in the Pakistan Cup (one-day tournament), where he was named the best batter of the tournament, ending as the competition’s highest run-getter.
Right-arm fast bowler Khurram Shahzad has also been awarded his maiden Test call-up, on the back of a successful domestic season thus far.
The 23-year-old was the highest wicket-taker of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24 with 36 wickets in eight matches at an average of 20.31 and picked up 13 wickets at 16.62 in the recently concluded Pakistan Cup.
Pace bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who last appeared in Tests for Pakistan during England’s tour of Pakistan in late 2022 has returned to the squad.
Left-arm pacer Mir Hamza, who registered 32 wickets at 20.88 in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, and right-arm pacer Mohammad Wasim Jnr are making a return to the squad as well.
The two fast bowlers were part of Pakistan’s squad during New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan that took place from December 2022 to January 2023.
Chief selector Wahab Riaz, reflecting on the squad selected for the Australia tour, said: “The squad has been assembled keeping in mind the challenging Australian conditions.
We have kept the pitches in mind and added more pace bowling resources to the team to ensure that the management can be flexible with the team combinations in all three Test matches."
"Saim Ayub has been added to the squad after the extraordinary domestic season he has had this year. He has impressed with the bat during the Quaid-e-Azam trophy and Pakistan Cup, pushing the case for his selection. His inclusion will strengthen our solid batting line-up.
“Pakistan has started off the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 really well, after their success in Sri Lanka earlier this year. We hope that the team can carry this momentum ahead in Australia as well. We have tried to ensure that the team has all relevant resources to find success in Australia.”
The squad will assemble in Rawalpindi on November 22 for a training camp ahead of the tour.
The camp is scheduled to run from November 23 to 28 at Pindi Cricket Stadium. The team will fly out on November 30 from Lahore.
Some additional players have also been invited to feature in the training camp. The players called for the camp are Arshad Iqbal, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usama Mir, and Usman Qadir.
Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi
First Test: December 14-18, Perth Stadium
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG
Third Test: January 3-7, SCG