Fawad Alam could end a five-year hiatus from Test cricket after being named in the 15-man Pakistan squad to face England in the UAE from October. His last Test was against New Zealand in November 2009 but he has been a heavy scorer in first-class cricket. Over the last 12 months, he had made two centuries – 201 and 164 – and five fifties in 14 innings.
The man making way is 20-year old Babar Azam. Alam had almost made it to the squad for the Sri Lanka tour recently but his name was pulled out due to logistical reasons and Azam replaced him.
“Our Test team has been an established team for years now and it is hard to make room for any new player,” Haroon Rasheed, Pakistan chief selector, told ESPNcricinfo. “Fawad Alam was in our plan for months now after his performance and we know he had been knocking at the selectors’ door for years in fact. We have added him to the squad in a bid to get ourselves ready for the transition after Misbah as we obviously need to have guys like him when our seasoned players fade away.”
Pakistan received a boost in the fast bowling department as well. Wahab Riaz has recovered from the hand injury he sustained in Sri Lanka and replaced Ehsan Adil. Left-arm quick Junaid Khan has kept his place in the Test squad as well despite seeming off-colour in Sri Lanka. Junaid did not play Pakistan’s last Test in Pallekele, but kept himself busy playing for English county Middlesex over the summer.
According to Rasheed, Wahab and Junaid might be suffering a dip in form but are among Pakistan’s major investments during the ongoing transition. “They are our investment and we would like to persist with them,” Rasheed said. “Both might have been low in confidence for some time now but we aren’t judging them on the basis of T20 performance. At the top level they will definitely come hard and with a different state of mind. We have named Junaid in the A team so that he can get ample time to get himself ready for the Test series.”
Pakistan decided that Yasir Shah, the top-ranked spinner in the world, and Zulfiqar Babar were enough as far as slow-bowling resources were concerned. The two are vital replacements for Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, who had been Pakistan’s major assets for years in the UAE.
Haris Sohail, another long-term investment Pakistan have made since 2013, missed out due to his patellar tendinitis injury. He had been undergoing rehabilitation for the injury for over a month at the NCA but failed to get himself cleared by doctors. “He is definitely one of the players who makes an automatic selection but he has not recovered ahead of the Zimbabwe series,” Rasheed said.
The PCB also announced the limited-overs squads for the Zimbabwe series from September 27. Batsman Sohaib Maqsood found a place in both the ODI and T20 squads after recovering from injury. Uncapped fast bowler Imran Khan jnr and allrounder Aamer Yamin received their maiden Pakistan call-ups, with Anwar Ali rested for the T20s to help him recover from a minor groin strain. Bilal Asif was another uncapped allrounder chosen for the shortest format, but he had already toured Sri Lanka with the Pakistan ODI side.
Among the more familiar names, batsman Umar Akmal and left-arm quick Sohail Tanvir were for only the T20s. Sarfraz Ahmed will miss the T20s to perform Hajj, allowing Mohammad Rizwan to keep wicket.
“We have rested Anwar to give another talented allrounder Yamin a chance as part of our rebuilding,” Rasheed said. “He played a couple of outstanding innings to show his ability and we would like to take him ahead with our plan.
“We meant to reward the outstanding performers from the recently concluded T20 Cup. But at the same time we are (keeping) continuity in the rebuilding phase of the Pakistan team by retaining majority of players who were part of the successful last tour of Sri Lanka.”
Test squad Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan
ODI squad Azhar Ali (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Wahab Raiz, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan
T20 squad Ahmed Shehzad, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi (capt), Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Irfan, Bilal Asif, Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imran Khan jnr