Chief Selector Inzamamul Haq on Sunday announced the Test squad for the upcoming tour of England and Ireland but super-fit batsman Fawad Alam did not make the cut yet again.
Led by Sarfraz Ahmed, the squad includes Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Fakhar Zaman, Imamul Haq and newcomer Saad Ali in the top order while Harris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam and Usman Salahuddin were included as middle-order batsmen.
With Pakistan Super League's (PSL) top performer Wahab Riaz being excluded, Pakistan will use the talent of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali, Hassan Ali and Faheem Ashraf in the pace department.
Pakistan will miss Yasir Shah — out owing to a hip injury — dearly in the series as the young Shadab Khan will be the lone specialist spinner accompanying the team.
Chief Selector Haq thanked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for allowing the selectors to announce a 16-man squad instead of the customary 15 to allow for a strong bench. "We have tried to strengthen our batting and also considered giving a chance to youngsters [on the tour] as the next World Cup is in England."
Asked about Alam's exclusion, Haq said that 16 players had to be selected out of 25 called for the training camp. "It does not mean that others were not up to the mark," he said, adding that those who participated in the camp would also be considered for future tours.
Regarding the inclusion of Hassan Ali, he said he thought the cricketer was a good Test bowler and would be useful on England's swinging wickets. When asked whether Wahab was excluded because of head coach Mickey Arthur's recent criticism of the player, Haq said that the pacer "has not performed well recently".
He said that the loss of Shah was huge as he has been the top wicket-taker for the team in Test matches.
Sporting a young side, including a number of players who would be looking to make their Test debuts, Pakistan will play a lone game against Ireland — Ireland's first — starting May 11, followed by two Tests against England.