Nine rookies in Pakistan squad for South Africa series


Pakistan have included nine uncapped players in their 20-man squad for the two-Tests against South Africa, starting on January 26.

The players will be required to enter the bio-bubble on January 19 after which the squad will be reduced to 16 players.

The new players who have been rewarded for some fine performances domestically are openers Abdullah Shafique and Imran Butt, middle-order batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel, spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan.

Making his return to the side after a two-year absence is Hasan Ali, after a successful Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, including 43 wickets and 273 runs. The most recent of his nine Tests was against South Africa, in Johannesburg, in Pakistan’s most recent tour to the country.

Mohammad Nawaz’s 22 wickets and 744 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy also earned him a recall, having last played against West Indies in Sharjah in 2016.

New Zealand underperformers dropped

Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar, who played in the last Test against New Zealand, in Christchurch, have been left out.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah was left out whilst he is nursing a niggling hamstring injury.

The 20-player squad is:

Openers – Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab) and Imran Butt (Balochistan)

Middle-order batsmen – Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Kamran Ghulam (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab) and Saud Shakeel (Sindh)

All-rounders – Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab) and Mohammad Nawaz (Northern)

Wicketkeepers – Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh)

Spinners – Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan)

Fast bowlers – Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Tabish Khan (Sindh)