Flamboyant opener Nasir Jamshed and tall fast-bowler Mohammad Irfan were rewarded for their impressive show on the short India tour after being included in the Test squad for the tour of South Africa.
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) selection committee, headed by Iqbal Qasim, announced the 16-man squad for the three-match series starting early next month. The first Test will start in Johannesburg from February 1 followed by matches in Cape Town and Centurion until February 26.
According to a PCB official, the selectors underwent thorough discussion in the last couple of days with head coach Dav Whatmore and captain Misbahul Haq at the board’s headquarters in Lahore before naming the squad.
Selectors see Test future in Jamshed
Jamshed, who has played 22 ODIs and 11 Twenty20s, got the Test nod on the basis of his back-to-back centuries in the ODI series against India.
Haris Sohail also got a Test call-up on basis of his domestic show.
“Jamshed proved he has the temperament for Tests,” an official, who was a part of selection process, told The Express Tribune. “We’ll need in-form batsmen in South Africa as it’s not going to be an easy task for Pakistan batting.”
Irfan’s selection was surprising given doubts around his fitness. But the official said, “the tracks will favour the tall pacer which may help the team significantly.”
Apart from Irfan, the selectors also showed faith in 19-year old fast bowler Ehsan Adil after a consistent performance in domestic season, grabbing over 50 wickets. The Pakistan pace attack will be spearheaded by Umar Gul and Junaid Khan as Mohammad Sami and Aizaz Cheema, who were part of Sri Lanka Test series, have been axed.
“We are banking a lot on the pacers,” said the official before hoping for a good show from spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman who returned to Test squad after serving doping ban.
Meanwhile, Asad Shafiq, who missed the India series due to an injury, returned with Younus Khan and Faisal Iqbal being retained.
Sarfraz makes Test comeback
Meanwhile, wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who played his only Test in 2010 in Australia, returned to the longer version after being preferred over Adnan Akmal.
Sarfraz finished the President’s Trophy with 40 dismissals and averaged over 40 with the bat and was preferred over Adnan..
Pakistan’s Test squad
Misbahul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Harris Sohail, Faisal Iqbal, Taufeeq Umar.
Those who missed out…
Umar Amin, the top scorer in President’s Trophy with 967 runs, was overlooked for series. Adnan Akmal, who became the regular Test wicket-keeper for Pakistan, was dropped despite being consistent behind the wickets as well as with the bat. Ayub Dogar and Afaq Rahim dropped without getting much chance on the tour of Sri Lanka. Aizaz Cheema dropped with ‘injury prone’ Mohammad Irfan preferred. Tanvir Ahmed also ignored despite consistent domestic show and was kept as reserved player.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2013.