Peshawar paceman Imran Khan handed first Pakistan call

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Opportunity: Imran Khan.

Rookie paceman Imran Khan junior was on Wednesday rewarded for his excellent bowling in Pakistani domestic cricket with a first-time inclusion in the national T20 squad for the tour of Zimbabwe.

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The 27-year-old took 16 wickets to help Peshawar defend the National Twenty20 title in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, claiming his second successive best bowler award after also winning it in 2014.

“We have rewarded some outstanding performers in the recently concluded tournament and Imran was one of them,” chief selector Haroon Rasheed said in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) release.

“But at the same time we are (keeping) continuity in the rebuilding phase of the Pakistan team by retaining majority of players who were part of the successful last tour of Sri Lanka,” he added.

The 25-year-old uncapped pace bowling all-rounder Amir Yamin was also included for the two Twenty20 matches later this month.

Anwar Ali has been rested from the T20 games to allow his recovery from a groin strain and he will join the squad only for the ODI series.

Shahid Afridi will lead the Twenty20 side while Azhar Ali will be the skipper for the three one-day matches.

Veteran batsman Younis Khan was not selected after a poor run of scores in the World Cup in February-March this year.

Batsman Sohaib Maqsood returned to both squads after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained ahead of the tour of Bangladesh in April.

The two Twenty20 matches will be played on September 27 and 29 followed by the ODIs on October 1, 3 and 5. All five matches of the limited-overs series will be played in Harare.

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No Saeed Ajmal in Pakistan’s Test squad for England series in UAE

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Dropped: Saeed Ajmal.

England will not have to face their 2012 tormentor Saeed Ajmal in next month’s three-Test series against Pakistan after the off-spinner failed to regain his place in the 15-man squad announced on Wednesday.

Ajmal, who turns 38 next month, has faced a tough time since returning to cricket from a five-month suspension after his bowling action was found to be illegal by the International Cricket Council last year.

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Since making his comeback with a remodelled action against Bangladesh in April, he has shown little of the form that brought him 24 wickets during Pakistan’s 3-0 whitewash over then world number one Test team England in the United Arab Emirates three years ago.

He has also performed poorly for English county-side Worcestershire, his 16 wickets this season coming at almost 56 apiece, as fast-rising leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar have filled the void for Pakistan.

The duo were instrumental in Pakistan’s 2-0 win over Australia last year and 2-1 triumph in Sri Lanka this year. All-rounder Fawad Alam meanwhile could end his five-year absence from Test cricket after being named in the squad.

The 29-year-old hit 168 on his debut in 2009 but only played two more matches before being dropped. Alam maintained a strong domestic record as supporters from his home city of Karachi consistently demanded he be recalled.

The first of the three Tests starts in Abu Dhabi from October 13. Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said a 16th member will be added to the squad later.

“In the light of captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s recommendations, we have kept the options open for the 16th player in the Test squad against England, picking up two left-arm spin bowlers namely Zafar Gohar and Mohammad Asghar for the brace of practice games and whoever amongst the two performs well would be added to the Test squad,” he said.

Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq, Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan

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Surrey's Zafar Ansari injured after first England Test call-up

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Debut in doubt: Zafar Ansari.

Zafar Ansari suffered an open dislocation of the thumb on his bowling hand just hours after earning a first call-up to England’s Test squad.

The Surrey all-rounder was named in the 16-man travelling party heading for the United Arab Emirates at the end of this month to take on Pakistan in three Tests along with fellow uncapped players Alex Hales and Adil Rashid.

However, less than five hours after the announcement, Ansari was bound for hospital after being struck on the left thumb while attempting to take a sharp catch in the field for Surrey in their LV County Championship Division Two match at Old Trafford.

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The 23-year-old’s county, who face Gloucestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s this Saturday, revealed the extent of the injury on Tuesday evening.

A post on their Twitter account read: “Latest on Zafar Ansari is he has a open dislocation of the left thumb and the injury will be reviewed over the next couple of days.”

The injury occurred when Ansari was fielding at cover-point and attempted to hold on to a chance given to him by Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince off the bowling of Sam Curran.

Ansari immediately looked in pain having shelled the opportunity and called for medical assistance, with Surrey’s director of cricket Alec Stewart acknowledging his player was in distress.

“It didn’t look good,” Stewart admitted at stumps.

“He’s gone off to hospital to see a hand specialist. It’s his left thumb and he was in quite a bit of pain. Fingers crossed for him but, seeing him in the dressing room, it’s certainly a concern.

“Obviously with the announcement (on Tuesday) morning he was in a great place. He’s earned that right, and he offers England something they haven’t got. If he gets in that environment I think England will be very impressed with him. Let’s not speculate now. Hopefully we’ll get some news sooner rather than later.”

Hales and Ansari both spelled out in earlier interviews that they are desperate to prove their Test credentials this winter.

Nottinghamshire opener Hales has been picked ahead of Adam Lyth, the Yorkshire batsman who played all seven Tests this summer but struggled badly for form during the Ashes – while, if fit, Ansari offers a third spin-bowling option alongside Moeen Ali and Rashid.

Hales is already a regular of the limited-overs side but has been rewarded for an upturn in his first-class output over the past two seasons.

He will vie with Moeen for the chance to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order – a job that has got the better of Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott and Lyth in the three years since Andrew Strauss’ retirement.

Ansari is the most junior member of the squad – with May’s rained-ruined one-day international in Ireland his only previous England experience.

Meanwhile, national selector James Whitaker confirmed that Ben Stokes – an ever-present across the formats this summer – is the latest recipient of a break from limited-overs cricket – stood down from the 50 and 20-over series against Pakistan.

James Taylor was named in both Test and one-day parties, leaving Gary Ballance – dropped two games into the Ashes but tipped for a swift return – as the odd man out.

Chris Jordan, Stephen Parry and James Vince are all selected as T20 specialists for the three-match series

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