KARACHI: The trio of rookie batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Abdullah Shafiq was left out as the national selectors retained six other uncapped players while announcing on Sunday a 17-man squad for Pakistan’s first Test against South Africa here at the National Stadium.
However, Kamran — this season’s record-breaking run-getter with 1,249 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy — Salman and Abdullah will remain with the Pakistan squad but won’t be considered for selection, at least for the opening Test of the two-match series after new chief selector Mohammad Wasim had included them in the preliminary squad of 20 that was announced on Jan 15..
The ‘lucky’ six to keep their places in the final squad are batsmen Imran Butt, who is like to open with fellow right-hander Abid Ali, and the left-handed Saud Shakeel along with pace duo of Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan and the spin pair of slow left-armer Nauman Ali and off-spinner Sajid Khan, who was the highest wicket-taker during the recent first-class season.
Star batsman Babar Azam — who was sidelined from all international fixtures during the New Zealand series with a thumb injury early on that tour — is poised to lead Pakistan for the first time in Test cricket when he walks out to toss with his South African counterpart Quinton de Kock on Tuesday morning.
Following the 2-0 loss to New Zealand, the selectors axed out-of-form trio of Shan Masood, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Abbas while retaining only seven members — vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan, Abid, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Yasir Shah — who played against Kane Williamson’s side.
The second Test will be played in Rawalpindi from Feb 4.
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz.—KHK
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021