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International Cricket

Five uncapped players in Pakistan’s squad to tour Ireland and England

Fakhar Zaman
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Pakistan have selected five uncapped players in their squad for next month’s one-off Test against Ireland and the two-Test series in England that follows, but there is no place for experienced fast bowler Wahab Riaz.

Batsmen Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali have all earned maiden call-ups to a 16-strong tour party which will be captained by Sarfraz Ahmed.

Fakhar, the 28-year-old left-hander, was Pakistan’s batting hero in last summer’s Champions Trophy final victory over India, hitting a superb century at The Oval. He averages 41.91 in first-class cricket, with six centuries.

He is joined in the squad by fellow southpaw Imam, the nephew of Pakistan legend, and now chief selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq. The 22-year-old hit a century on his ODI debut last October against Sri Lanka.

Imam-ul-Haq

Imam-ul-Haq made an instant impression at international level

Saad, 24, is rewarded for being the leading run-scorer in the Quaid-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s domestic first-class competition, while Usman has been knocking on the door for some time, hitting 20 centuries in his first-class career with an average of 46.53.

Fawad Alam misses out yet again despite continuing to impress in domestic first-class cricket.

The all-rounder Faheem Ashraf is also in line to make his Test debut after impressing with the ball in Pakistan’s limited-overs sides.

“We’ve kept two things in focus when deciding on the final touring squad for England,” Inzamam said. “One, we’ve tried to strengthen our batting line-up. Secondly, we’ve borne in mind that the World Cup next year is in England. So we’ve decided to call up several young players to give them exposure to those conditions. This is a great opportunity for us, particularly our batsmen, to gain experience in these conditions.”

Wahab Riaz

Wahab Riaz didn’t make the cut and Mickey Arthur had some strong words for him

In the absence of the injured Yasir Shah – who Inzamam described as “a big loss” – Shadab Khan, the exciting 19-year-old leggie, will be the tourists’ lead spinner.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur acknowledged that leaving out a player of Wahab’s pedigree was a tough decision but questioned the 32-year-old’s work ethic in training and told ESPNcricinfo that “he has not won us a game in two years”.

Pakistan take on Ireland in a historic first Test match for the Irish starting on May 11 in Malahide, Dublin before beginning the series with England at Lord’s on May 24.

Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (cap &wk), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Sami Aslam, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Saad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Usman Salahuddin, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Faheem Ashraf

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