The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) rewarded nine uncapped players for their "stellar performances" in domestic cricket by including them in the 20-member squad for the upcoming two-Test series against South Africa, a press release said on Friday.
"Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imran Butt, middle-order batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel, spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan have been rewarded for their stellar performances in the 2020-21 domestic season, including the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy," the press statement read.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict Covid-19 protocols," PCB Chief Executive Officer Wasim Khan was quoted as saying.
"This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket. All those players who aspire to represent Pakistan at the global stage will not only have to feature in it but also perform at the expected levels to earn the selectors’ nod."
Fast bowler Hasan Ali has also returned to the Test squad after a two-year hiatus. Hasan shone in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, where he was awarded Player of the final and tournament. In the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy contest, Hasan picked 43 wickets and scored 273 runs. His last appearance in a Test match was in Johannesburg against South Africa.
Meanwhile, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar were left out of this tournament. The first three have been sent to the National High Performance Centre in order to "work on their technical faults with the qualified coaches". Gohar, who made his debut in Christchurch earlier this month, "remains part of selectors long term plans in both red and white ball cricket" and will work with coaches of the National High Performance Centre, the press release said.
Fast bowler Naseem Shah was not considered for selection after he complained of a niggle in his hamstring.
The 20-member squad will be isolated in a bio-secure bubble from January 19 and will be shortened to 16 members, the press release said.
Pakistan will play the first Test against South Africa in Karachi from January 26 and the second in Rawalpindi from February 4. Later, the two teams will play three T20I matches series from February 11-14 in Lahore.
The South Africans are touring Pakistan after a long period of 14 years.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Tabish Khan