Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday announced the 16-member Test squad for the England Test series, with Azhar Ali as captain.
According to a tweet from the PCB, the squad will comprise: Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam (vc), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Imam, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah.
Pakistan are the second Test team, after West Indies, to tour England this summer. They will play three Tests, the first beginning on Wednesday, and three T20 Internationals in bio-secure venues in Manchester and Southampton.
Yesterday, head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, expressing satisfaction with the team’s preparations for the England series, said the team was in good form and ready to play.
“We started after three months from scratch, which has been good so far,” Misbah said while speaking through a video link.
While noting that this was an opportunity for young bowlers to exhibit their skills, he said that the Pakistani bowlers lacked experience when compared to their counterparts. oreover, Former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood feels England series is an opportunity for young Pakistan players like Babar Azam, Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi to make a name for themselves on the international stage.
“Babar is a phenomenal batsman. He has always done well in limited-overs cricket but over the past 18 months he’s gone to another level in Tests and now averages more than 45,” Azhar said in an interview with BBC sports.
“His work ethic is brilliant; the only thing he wants to do is bat, bat and bat. People compare him with Virat Kohli because of his drive shot. But he plays the short ball well too.
“And he likes to play the ball late in order to rotate the strike. If you look at the quality players around the world like Kohli, Kane Williamson or Steve Smith, that’s how they play,” he said. Azhar, who will also be the part of BBC’s Test match special commentary team, said Babar’s stint at county cricket with Somerset last year, being in a different environment and sharing the dressing room with different people, had also helped him grow. “With both him and Imam-ul-Haq, we have to ask them to leave the nets to let the other guys have a go. They just love playing cricket.” Talking of Imam, he said people always compared him with his uncle, the great Inzamam-ul-Haq, but Imam was doing so well in his own right.
“Unfortunately he hasn’t made his mark in Test cricket yet but he is a great prospect. I don’t think he’ll play in the first Test, but he’s a player to watch should he be given a chance.” He said another player to look out for was the wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan. “He scored a century in the intra-squad warm up games and I think will play in the first Test. He could score a lot of runs.” As for the bowlers, Azhar said Pakistan were missing the retired Mohammad Amir, a fantastic player who England cricket fans knew well. “He is in the squad for the T20s but has stopped playing Test cricket because he doesn’t want to put the toll on his body, which is fair enough.
“According to Azhar Pakistan have good enough resource in Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi. “At just 17 years old, Naseem is a very exciting fast bowler who everybody, rightly so, is talking about. He can bowl at speeds in excess of 90mph, has a quick bouncer and can swing the ball both ways. He’s already got a Test hat-trick to his name.
“It’s crucial he is managed well. At such an early age, you don’t know much about your bowling action and workload. Pakistan will be wise to rotate him, especially in back-to-back Tests.
“I have worked with Shaheen and can tell you he is one of the leaders in the team. He wants to learn every time he goes into the nets, asks questions and constantly wants to improve his game.
He said the inexperience of these two bowlers in international cricket could be an advantage as they would be fearless going into these big matches.
“Yes, Naseem and Shaheen will make mistakes, as young players do, but they are very talented.—AP