Pakistan names young pace bowlers for tour of Australia
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan named two rookie fast bowlers for next month's tour to Australia, and Mohammad Rizwan was brought in to replace wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Musa Khan, who is only 17 years old, was named in both the test and Twenty20 squads, while 16-year-old Naseem Shah made it to the test team.
Both fast bowlers have impressed chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq with their pace as they team up with Shaheen Afridi and the experienced Mohammad Abbas to lead the pace attack.
"You have to have a surprise package if you want to compete against Australia in Australia and these two fast bowlers (Musa and Naseem) have a very good attitude toward fast bowling," Misbah said Monday.
The selectors have also recalled fast bowler Imran Khan Sr. and middle order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed. Imran played his last test against Australia in Sydney in 2017 while Iftikhar's only previous test appearance came against England in 2016.
"Yes, it's a brave and bold decision to select the likes of Musa and Naseem, but we know that their fresh and attacking approach will give us something different," Misbah said. "The Australian wickets will give them the opportunity to express themselves, gain valuable experience and it will help us to take 20 wickets to win the tests."
The 16-man test squad also includes uncapped opening batsman Abid Ali, who has performed well in the recent limited-overs series against Sri Lanka. Kashif Bhatti is a surprise inclusion in the squad after the 33-year-old left-arm spinner took 327 wickets in 83 first-class matches over the last 12 years.
There were new faces in Pakistan's 16-member Twenty20 squad, too, with the likes of power hitter Khushdil Shah and Perth Scorchers leg-spinner Usman Qadir, the son of late Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir.
"Khushdil Shah has been added as he is in-form and has displayed his power-hitting abilities, while Usman brings to the table his experience of playing in Australia. Usman also provides cover for Shadab Khan, who is on track for reclaiming his match form," Misbah said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board removed Sarfaraz from the captaincy and also dropped him from the tour to Australia after Pakistan lost a Twenty20 series against a second-string Sri Lanka this month. Babar Azam was named Twenty20 captain while Azhar Ali will lead the team in test matches.
"There's no conspiracy against Sarfaraz," Misbah said. "His comeback is pretty much straightforward and my message to him is 'just perform in domestic cricket and regain your form.'"
The three Twenty20s will be played in Sydney (Nov. 3), Canberra (Nov. 5) and Perth (Nov. 8).
Brisbane will host the first test from Nov. 21-25, while the second test in Adelaide (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) will be a day-night match.
Twenty20 squad: Babar Azam (captain), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz.
Test squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Sr., Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.