Sunday, December 10, 2023

Masood era begins as Pakistan announce Test squad for Australia series

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Pakistan have announced their 18-member travelling squad for the series against Australia starting 14 December.

Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday, 20 November have announced their squad for the Test series against Australia with Shan Masood set to lead the team for the first time after taking over as captain from Babar Azam.

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Left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub and right-arm fast bowler Khurram Shahzad have earned maiden Test call-ups for the three-match series that will be played under the ongoing World Test Championship umbrella.

Both the stars get into the Test squad on the back of brilliant performances in the domestic circuit. Ayub scored 553 runs in four matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, which included three centuries. Shahzad ended up as the leading wicket-taker with 36 wickets in eight matches in the same tournament.

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All-rounder Faheem Ashraf is back in the Test fray after a gap of almost a year. He last played in the white for Pakistan in December 2022. Pacers Mir Hamza and Mohammad Wasim are the other players who mark their returns as well.  

Squad: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Speaking on the squad announcement, newly-appointed Chief Selector Wahab Riaz said: “The squad has been assembled keeping in mind the challenging Australian conditions. We have kept the pitches in mind and added more pace bowling resources to the team to ensure that the management can be flexible with the team combinations in all three Test matches.

 “Saim Ayub has been added to the squad after the extraordinary domestic season he has had this year. He has impressed with the bat during the Quaid-e-Azam trophy and Pakistan Cup, pushing the case for his selection. His inclusion will strengthen our solid batting line-up.

“Pakistan has started off the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 really well, after their success in Sri Lanka earlier this year. We hope that the team can carry this momentum ahead in Australia as well. We have tried to ensure that the team has all relevant resources to find success in Australia.”

The away Test series marks a new era in Pakistan cricket with a lot of changes being made after the recent ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, including Babar stepping away from captaincy.

Under his leadership, Pakistan made a bright start in the current World Test Championship where they are on top of the table with 24 points (100% point percentage) after their 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka in July. Newly-crowned ODI World Cup Champions Australia are third in the standings with a point percentage of 30 after the drawn Ashes series.

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