Pakistan named an 18-man team to face England in a three-match series on home soil next month, and we look at some of the big talking points from the selection table. The series is essential for Pakistan as they try to keep pace with the top teams and finish in the top two to qualify for next year’s World Test Championship final.
Pakistan currently sits fifth on the World Test Championship table with a win percentage of 51.85 and has five Tests remaining during this World Test Championship period – three against England in this series and three against New Zealand over the New Year – to try and earn a spot in next year’s final at The Oval.
Yasir Shah is on the outer again as the mystery spinner set to be unveiled
Yasir Shah has been a tremendous servant of Pakistan cricket, having taken the fifth most Test wickets for the country, but it appears selectors are seeking for a replacement after the 36-year-old was snubbed for the series against England.
The pick of uncapped leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed is a gamble, but it might pay off handsomely based on his propensity to confound hitters with his combination of leg-spin and wrong uns. Ahmed may only have played 13 first-class matches, but the 24-year-old has 76 wickets at an average of little over 25 to go with his stellar record, and on current form appears a strong pick. While Mohammad Nawaz and Nauman Ali are anticipated to be Pakistan’s key spinners during the series, Ahmed will provide skipper Babar Azam another option if conditions favor slower bowlers.
With Shaheen Afridi missing, its time for Haris Rauf to shine
Pakistan’s suspicions were confirmed when top bowler Shaheen Afridi was left out of the 18-man squad due to a knee injury, but it might be a gift in disguise if teammate fast Haris Rauf can convert his white-ball prowess into the Test arena. Rauf has never played a Test match for his nation, which is quite unexpected, but at 29 years old, there is still time for the outstanding right-armer to make a mark in the longest format.
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Even in the loss of Afridi, Pakistan still has a plethora of strong quicks in their team, with Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, and Rauf expected to compete for two or three pace places every Test. Rauf’s ability to swing the old ball might be a weapon that Babar employs, as Australia pacers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins were particularly efficient in utilizing reverse swing during the three-match series in Pakistan earlier this year.
- Babar Azam (capt)
- Mohammad Rizwan
- Sarfaraz Ahmed
- Shan Masood
- Saud Shakeel
- Salman Agha
- Naseem Shah
- Nauman Ali
- Abdullah Shafique
- Faheem Ashraf
- Haris Rauf
- Mohammad Wasim Jr
- Abrar Ahmed
- Zahid Mahmood
- Mohammad Nawaz
- Azhar Ali
- Mohammad Ali