Under-19 batsman Haider Ali has been named in the 29-member Pakistan squad for three Tests and as many T20Is against England to be played in August-September.
Haider had an outstanding 2019-20 season, following which he earned an emerging contract for the 2020-21 season. He was Pakistan U19’s second-most successful batsman with 317 runs against South Africa in June, fifth leading run-getter with 218 runs in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup in Bangladesh, aggregated 645 runs – including a century in the final – at just under 50 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, finished as Pakistan’s third-best batsman with 107 runs in the U19 World Cup 2020 before contributi239 runs in nine matches at a strike-rate of over 158 for Peshawar Zalmi in the unfinished Pakistan Super League 2020.
Besides Haider, Kashif Bhatti is the other uncapped player in the side. Kashif was in the Test squad against Australia and Sri Lanka but did not play and was also named in the probables for the Rawalpindi Test against Bangladesh.
Returning to the national colours is fast bowler Sohail Khan, whose ninth and last Test for Pakistan was the 2016 Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Apart from Haider, Kashif, Sohail and the other centrally contracted players, excluding Haris Sohail, the PCB selectors have named Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Imran Khan, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz.
The selectors have also named four reserves in Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz as a cover in case any of the players fail pre-tour COVID-19 testing, which will be carried out on June20 and 25.
Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir, and middle-order batsman Haris were not available for selection. Hasan is suffering from a back injury, Amir withdrew so that he can be at the birth of his second child in August while Haris took the option of pulling out of the tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The selectors have picked a squad which gives us the best chance of success in England. It was a challenging process as the players have not played for an extended period of time, but nevertheless, with the month that we will have in England and the intense training we will undergo, we are confident we will get the players up to the mark to be ready for the three Tests,” chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said as per a PCB media release.
“But the main focus of the selectors has been red-ball cricket, which we will play for nearly two months with the T20Is to be played at the backend of the ICC World Test Championship fixtures.
“The series against England will be challenging as our players have not played any competitive cricket since March, while the home team will come following a series against the West Indies. This means we will have to hit the ground running as soon as we land in England and make the best use of the training sessions and match practice before we enter the first Test.
“The players have also been selected with one eye on the future. I want these players to acquire as much cricket knowledge as possible from the additional backroom staff of Mushtaq Ahmed and Younis Khan that can help them post the England tour,” he added.
Squad: Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam (Test vice-captain and T20I captain), Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmad, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Kashif Bhatti, Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah.