Pakistan selectors overlooked 32-year-old batsman Fawad Alam despite strong domestic form as they picked five uncapped players in the 16-man squad for their Tests against Ireland and England starting next month.
The five include openers Fakhar Zaman, 28, and Imam-ul-Haq, 22. Batsmen Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali, and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf are the other three uncapped members of the squad.
“The World Cup next year is in England. So we’ve decided to call up several young players to give them exposure to those conditions,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said at a press conference.
“This is a great opportunity for us, particularly our batsmen, to gain experience in this conditions.”
The left-handed Alam has consistently been one of the highest run-scorers in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and now has 10,742 first-class runs under his belt. His average from 145 games is 55.3 which comfortably the best in Pakistan’s recent history. Alam last played a Test in 2009 and his last ODI was in 2015.
Four openers, including Imam ul Haq, picked for the tour comprised of just three Tests. Usman Salahuddin, Haris Sohail preferred over Fawad Alam, fail to understand what wrong Fawad has done.— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) April 15, 2018
Earlier, Pakistan suffered a major setback last week when ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah was ruled out of the tour with a hip bone fracture.
Shah was replaced with teenager Shadab Khan, who has only played one Test.
“Yasir’s absence is a big loss for us,” Haq said.
“If we look at his numbers for the last two years, he has more wickets than any other bowler for Pakistan. He was our strike bowler. He played a big part in all the games we won.”
Haq said selectors had tried strengthen the side’s batting, which was weakened after the retirement last year of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
Mohammad Amir will lead the pace attack, for which Rahat Ali was recalled, but there was no place for Wahab Riaz.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the captain, is the only specialist wicketkeeper in the squad.
Ireland will play their first-ever Test against Pakistan from May 11-15 in Dublin. Pakistan will then play two Tests against England – at Lord’s (May 24-28) and Headingley (June 1-5).
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Sami Aslam, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Saad Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Abbas
Sporting ties between the South Asian neighbours have suffered in recent years amid rising political tensions, and Pakistani cricket authorities say their Indian counterparts have not adhered to a 2014 memorandum of understanding under which the two were to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is seeking $70 million (Dh257m) in compensation. It initiated dispute resolution proceedings against the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at the ICC in November last year.
A three-member panel will hear the claim later this year, the sport’s world governing body said in a statement.
Three member dispute panel constituted to hear PCB’s dispute resolution case against BCCI. Michael Beloff to chair the panel. Jan Paulsson, PCB’s nominee, and Annabelle Bennett, BCCI’s representative, to be part of it.— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) April 11, 2018
“The hearing will take place in Dubai from 1-3 October and the decision of the Dispute Panel shall be non-appealable and binding on both Pakistan and India,” the ICC said.
The BCCI refused to play two series against Pakistan in 2015 and 2017, saying it did not have permission from the Indian government because of strained relations.
India-Pakistan ties, including sports and cultural contacts, plummeted after the 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militant groups.
There has been just one bilateral tour since, when Pakistan visited India to play two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals in December 2012 and January 2013.
They have, however, continued to play each other in multinational events like the World Cup.
Pakistan’s chief selector and former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq confirmed the news of Shah’s injury to the media on Monday.
“Yasir is ruled out of the Ireland and England Test tours and it’s a big blow. It’s a big loss for the team,” he stated.
The leg-spinner is a vital cog in the Pakistan Test outfit having picked up 165 wickets in just 28 Tests since making his debut against Australia in 2014. The 31-year-old is the second fastest bowler from his country to notch up 150 Test wickets, achieving the figure in just 27 matches.
Medical reports have confirmed that the leg-spinner has suffered a hip bone stress fracture and he is expected to be ruled out for at least 10 weeks to complete his rehabilitation from the injury.
Pakistan are set to become Ireland’s first Test opponents since being awarded a full ICC Membership last year when the two sides meet on May 11 at Dublin. Following the Ireland leg, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men will be travelling to neighbouring England to play two Tests which will be held at the Lord’s at London and Headingley in Leeds.
In Shah’s absence, Pakistan have called up teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan along with Bilal Asif and Kashif Bhatti to the team’s fitness camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at Lahore.