ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan has named uncapped mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali in its 18-member squad for next month’s three-test home series against England.
The 24-year-old Ahmed is in top form in the ongoing domestic first-class tournament, where he has picked up 43 wickets at an impressive average of 21.95.
Ali has made his way into the test squad after grabbing 56 wickets in the last two domestic seasons and his tally of 24 wickets this season are the most by any fast bowler in the tournament.
England will play a test series in Pakistan 17 years after last touring the country in 2005. Pakistan has twice hosted England during this period in the United Arab Emirates. England toured Pakistan before the T20 World Cup in Australia for a seven-match Twenty20 series and went onto beat Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“Mohammad Ali has shown great patience and control, and his numbers speak for his consistency,” chief selector Mohammad Wasim said on Monday.
“Abrar is in outstanding form this season, so it does make sense to make him available to (captain) Babar Azam so he can use the confidence and talent of this youngster in the upcoming series.”
England will be arriving later this week and will kick-off the tour with the first test at Rawalpindi from Dec. 1. Multan will host the second test from Dec. 9-13 before Karachi hosts the final test from Dec. 17-21.
Two more uncapped bowlers — fast bowler Mohammad Wasim and leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood – are also part of the squad. Both players were part of the squad for the home series against Australia but were not used.
Pakistan will be without key fast bowler Shaheen Afridi after the left-arm paceman underwent appendicitis surgery on Sunday. Afridi needs three to four weeks to recover, after which he will undergo rehabilitation on his right knee. Afridi did represent Pakistan in the T20 World Cup after recovering from a knee injury, but sustained another blow to the same knee while fielding during the final against England.
The selectors have also dropped seasoned leg-spinner Yasir Shah, middle order batter Fawad Alam and fast bowler Hasan Ali after below par performances in Pakistan’s two test series, against Australia and Sri Lanka.
“We have selected this 18-man squad keeping in mind the form of the players, the conditions and the opposition,” chief selector Wasim said.
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.