Star pacer Shaheen Afridi was on Saturday named in Pakistan’s squad for the Test series in Sri Lanka next month while Muhammad Huraira and Aamir Jamal received maiden call-ups in the longer version. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also announced that former pacer Morne Morkel has been appointed as the bowling coach. The ex-South African quick has signed a six-month contract. The 16-member squad, led by Babar Azam, will play two Tests in Sri Lanka, which will kickoff Pakistan’s campaign in the third ICC World Test Championship cycle.
The good news for Pakistan was the return of tall left-arm pacer and lynchpin of the bowling attack, Afridi who has not played any Test cricket since July last year due to a knee injury. Shaheen, who suffered a knee injury in his last Test appearance also in Sri Lanka in July, last played for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final against England in October.
“After missing our entire home season because of the injury I suffered in Sri Lanka, I am eager to make an impactful comeback in the same country and complete a century of wickets in Test cricket,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen is one wicket away from reaching a century of Test wickets and no Pakistan bowler has picked up more wickets than him since the left-armer made his debut in December 2018. The 23-year-old averages 24.86 and has an economy of 3.04. The 21-year-old batter, Huraira topped the wicket-takers chart for the fast bowlers in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23, taking 31 scalps at 29.71 and recorded two five-wicket hauls.
Jamal, on the other hand, defended 15 runs in the last over against England’s Moeen Ali on his Pakistan debut in September last year. His immaculate death bowling helped Pakistan to a thrilling six-run win over England in the fifth T20I.
Chief Selector Haroon Rasheed said that the squad had been picked keeping in mind the conditions that the team will encounter in Sri Lanka.
The squad has four spinners, four fast bowlers, six specialist batters and two keeper-batters.
“We have three such bowlers to go with the mystery spin of Abrar Ahmed. At the same time, we cannot overlook the need for fast bowlers and, as such, we have included four pacers so the captain and team management have ample resources on the tour.
“We boast a strong batting line-up, which I am confident will do well in the two matches,” Harroon said.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi and Shan Masood.
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