Pakistan squad for Sri Lanka Tests analysis - Fawad & Shinwari called up, Iftikhar & Musa axed, Azhar's future and more
After suffering a serious 2-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia Down Under, which as per Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali has hurt the team's pride, the Misbah-ul-Haq led selection committee has made a few changes to the squad.
As Test cricket returns to Pakistan after a decade, the first Test is scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi on December 11. This marks a historical moment in the country's cricketing history.
The last time Pakistan played Test cricket at home, it was in 2009 against Sri Lanka at Lahore. Ever since, their home matches have been shifted to UAE and the team would want to make Test cricket's return a memorable occasion.
Fawad Alam rewarded for consistent domestic runs
The biggest news to come out of the team announcement is the selection of Fawad Alam. This was almost a given after the poor performance by Pakistan batsmen in Australia. Fawad made his Test debut way back in July 2009 against Sri Lanka in Colombo and played his last Test in the same year against New Zealand.
On the back of consistent runs in first-class cricket, he makes a return to Test cricket after 10 years, which shows that if one is persistent and hungry enough, nothing is impossible in cricket or in life. Alam played his last international match against Bangladesh in 2015. The 34-year old has played a total of 38 ODIs and 24 T20Is but his test tally of of 3 matches is all set to increase this month.
After piling up the runs in domestic cricket, it was his 211 and 116 run knocks in back to back matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that finally helped him break the door down. In familiar conditions, it is likely that Alam will translate his domestic form into international cricket.
Usman Shinwari set to make Test debut
When Pakistan selected three teenage pacers in Musa Khan, Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi, there were questions as to why Usman Shinwari, at 25 years of age and with a first class experience of 27 matches, was not selected.
Shinwari has a decent record in first class cricket with an average of 24.54 with 90 wickets from 27 matches. He has also played 42 list A matches, picking up 77 wickets at 21.38. The pacer is all set to make his Test debut in the series.
Iftikhar and Musa axed
Shinwari has been selected in the place of Mohammad Musa who had a forgettable tour of Australia. Musa conceded 114 runs from 20 overs at an economy of 5.70 without taking a wicket on Test debut. When he did dismiss Warner, it was a no ball and nothing went right for the teenager. He also looked pretty raw and not ready for Test cricket yet.
Iftikhar Ahmed also failed to leave an impact Down Under, managing just 44 runs from 4 innings at an average of 11. His off spinners also did not seem to work their magic and hence, while he will retain his T20 spot in the future, he has been done away with from the Test squad.
Naseem Shah has retained his place in the squad and has also been named in the under-19 World Cup squad in January-February.
Azhar Ali's future
While Azhar Ali has been retained as the captain for the Pakistan Test side for this series - which is the sensible thing to do - things have become a bit bleak for him after the humiliating series loss against Australia. Ali will have to step up both on the captaincy and the batting front.
He last scored a Test century more than a year ago in December 2018 against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. Since that knock, in the last 5 test matches, his highest score has been 39. Four innings in home conditions present a golden opportunity for him to revive his form.
"I know I need runs whether captain or any other player nobody can play without giving performance. The next series is against Sri Lanka which is a momentous occasion for all of us, all players will be playing their first test match in Pakistan," Azhar said on Friday.
"Sri Lanka is bringing their full-strength side and we have to play very good cricket to beat them. We will try our best and whatever time we have in between we have to freshen up our minds and look forward to play good cricket and get back on track. It is very important for us and we have to play this series very good," an upeat skipper signed off.
Pakistan Test squad - Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Usman Shinwari
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