by saad umer
Pakistan dropped batsmen Shan Masood and Haris Sohail along with fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah in a wholesale shake-up on Friday for the upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa.
The changes were forced after Pakistan lost both Tests on their tour of New Zealand where they failed in all three departments of the game.
Opener Masood had managed just 33 runs in the last eight Test innings since scoring 156 against England in August, failing miserably in New Zealand where he scored just 10 in two matches with three zeros.
Left hander Sohail managed just 28 in two Tests in New Zealand.
The 17-year-old Naseem and spearhead Abbas both managed just four wickets in the series.
Left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar is the fifth player dropped from the last Test at Christchurch which Pakistan lost by an innings and 176 runs earlier this month.
But new chief selector Mohammad Wasim refused to accept it was a “panic like situation”.
“No, it’s not panic,” said Wasim while announcing the squad.
“We have selected a squad after analysing the performance in New Zealand and areas of improvement are identified.”
Wasim said Naseem and Abbas were not up to the mark in New Zealand.
“Both Naseem and Abbas were lacking that bite so we have not included them in the squad which will be trimmed to 16 before the Test,” said Wasim.South Africa will arrive early Saturday and after a five-day quarantine play the first Test in Karachi from January 26.
The second Test will be in Rawalpindi from February 4 before three Twenty20 internationals on February 11, 13 and 14 — all in Lahore.
More consideration was given to performers of the just concluded domestic first-class matches from where six uncapped players — Kamran Ghulam (batsman), Saud Shakil (batsman), Nauman Ali (left-arm spinner), Sajid Khan (off-spinner) Tabish Khan (fast bowler) and Agha Salman (batsman) — are selected.
Ghulam, 25, created a new record for most runs in a Quaid-e-Azam trophy tournament with 1249 while Sajid took the most wickets with 67.
Pakistan squad Babar Azam (capt), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan.