Amir’s exclusion comes after the pacer was unable to pick a single wicket in the Asia Cup where Pakistan crashed out of the Super Four stage with defeat to Bangladesh.
While Amir has been dropped, another pacer in Wahab Riaz has been handed a recall. Also picked is the uncapped Mir Hamza who adds another left-armed option to Pakistan’s pace battery. Wahab last featured for Pakistan in the Test series against Sri Lanka in October last year and was dropped from the squad with head coach Mickey Arthur publicly questioning his ability to win games for the side.
That Amir was able to pick just the single wicket in Pakistan’s last Test series in the UAE (against Sri Lanka) might have also been a big factor in his omission.
“The team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions of the UAE. Mohammad Amir has been dropped from the side while Wahab Riaz and Mir Hamza have been picked,” chief selector and former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq stated.
With Pakistan expected to bank on spin in the two matches, a maiden Test call up has been handed to off-spinner Bilal Asif. The 33-year-old has previously played three ODIs for the country and will present a different option apart from the two leg-spinners in Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan.
“Three spinners, Shahdab Khan, Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif, have been kept in the squad keeping in view the UAE wickets. Furthermore, Mohammad Rizwan makes a comeback in the Test squad,” Inzamam said.
The first of the two Tests between Pakistan and Australia will get underway in Dubai on October 7.
PAKISTAN 17-MAN SQUAD
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan
The Men in Green missed out on reaching Friday’s final after suffering a 37-run defeat to Bangladesh in their crucial winner-takes-all Super Four clash on Wednesday.
It was their third loss in five matches in the UAE having earlier been on the receiving end of eight and nine-wicket thrashings by arch-rivals India.
It capped a disappointing campaign for Sarfraz’s side with a number of key players failing to play to their potential after a dominant 5-0 series whitewash against Zimbabwe.
Among those were Fakhar Zaman, who could not replicate the form that brought him 545 runs in the ODI series with a top-score of 24 in the UAE, while Mohammad Amir went wicketless in his three outings.
Sarfraz disappointed with 68 runs in four innings and while he accepts the criticism, the skipper blamed himself for the team’s elimination.
“I know I didn’t perform well. I needed to do much better, which I couldn’t. I take responsibility for the team’s performance,” he said.
Sarfraz has allowed the game to drift...rated him highly as a skipper post the Champions Trophy success. He’s looked a patch of that in this #AsiaCup— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 26, 2018
“There’s always pressure on the captain of the Pakistan team. When the team does badly, obviously the pressure increases. If I tell you that I haven’t slept properly for the last six days, you won’t believe me. But yes, I want to stress that we shouldn’t panic. There should be criticism for our performance, but give us a little time.”
While he reiterated the importance of not panicking, he hinted that it maybe time to scout for new talent although he is convinced when they do arrive in England next May they will be a competitive force.
He added: “There’s no need to press the panic button. Yes, we have made mistakes as a team, and as a captain, I know that I didn’t do well. But no need to panic, we need to back the players, look at the positions and see if there are people outside the team who can come in.
“I still believe we have a lot of talented players in the team. Look at Fakhar Zaman. Though he didn’t have a good tournament, we have to back him. Babar Azam too. Imam has, thankfully, done well, but there’s also Shadab and Hasan. We have to back them and take them along with us. We have to look at our bench too. We have a pool of players, and by the time the World Cup comes, we’ll have a good team.”
Mushfiqur Rahim missed his century by one run as Bangladesh were bowled out for 239 in their must-win Asia Cup Super Four clash.
In the chase, Pakistan lost the wickets of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and captain Sarfraz Ahmed early and were reeling at 18-3 in the fourth over.
Opener Imam fought hard by scoring 83 but Bangladesh bowlers never lost control. Seamer Mustafizur Rahman picked up 4-43 to lead Bangladesh’s victory charge.
The two teams locked horns in what was virtually a semi-final in the Asia Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Bangladesh will now face India in the final on Friday. Catch the updates in the link below.