KARACHI: Chief selector Inzamamul Haq announced a 17-member squad for the Test tour of England yesterday while addressing a press conference at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
The injured duo of opener Mohammad Hafeez and Yasir Shah both secured their berths in the squad as they are expected to recover in time for the first Test of the series that starts at Lord’s on July 14.
There were no major surprises in the squad with uncapped Peshawar-born Iftikhar Ahmed earning his first ever Test call-up after captain Misbahul Haq reportedly requested for his induction ahead of prolific first-class performer Fawad Alam.
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Inzamam claimed that the squad was chosen with complete consensus among the stakeholders including head coach Mickey Arthur who is expected to arrive in Lahore today.
“My wish was to have Arthur see the team, but he has given his consent to the selected team. The captain too has given his consent. Plus we also have the option of including players from the A’ side that is touring England simultaneously,” said Inzamam.
The former skipper hoped that Hafeez would regain full fitness and batting form during the 25-day conditioning camp and practice games that have been arranged for the squad prior to the commencement of the Test series in England.
“We have arranged for a 25-day camp in England so that we can acclimatise to their conditions,” he added. “Hafeez is our senior player; he has played all formats for the last six, seven years. I hope that he achieves full fitness and regains his batting touch by then.”
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The chief selector also clarified that Mohammad Amir’s selection was subject to his UK visa, which he hoped would be received soon.
‘Our strength is aggression and positive cricket’
Inzamam lamented the fact that Pakistan hadn’t been exposed to foreign conditions for the last six to seven years and feels that the real challenge for batsmen would be to retain the positive game the team is renowned for.
“Our strength is aggression and positive cricket; we shouldn’t worry about English conditions,” he said. “I am worried about the fact that we haven’t played outside our conditions for the last several years, but hopefully we can overcome that lag by staying positive.”
The selectors have also drafted in Mohammad Rizwan as the reserve wicketkeeper for the tour with Inzamam explaining that the long duration of the tour in addition to the practice games demanded two wicketkeepers. “We have given Rizwan a chance to further his career after his limited-overs appearances; he will get a chance to play the practice games and Tests if needed, but he’s primarily there to share Sarfraz’s burden,” explained Inzamam.
The 17-man list also includes fast-bowler Sohail Khan who makes a return to the national team after more than a year’s absence following a back injury. Sohail last represented the team in the 2015 ODI World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand.
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The 32 year-old Karachi pacer has played two Tests in a stop-and-start career; his last appearance in the longest format was against Zimbabwe in the 2011 Harare Test.
The chief selector also revealed that middle-order batsman Babar Azam will lead the A’ team.
Squad for England tour
Openers: Mohammad Hafeez, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood
Middle-order batsmen: Azhar Ali, Younus Khan, Misbahul Haq (C), Asad Shafiq and Iftikhar Ahmed
Wicketkeepers: Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan
Fast-bowlers: Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz,
Sohail Khan and Imran Khan Senior
Spinners: Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2016.
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