KARACHI: Six players, including Shan Masood, Haris Sohail and Imam-ul-Haq, from the recent New Zealand series were axed as Pakistan’s new chief selector Muhammad Wasim on Friday announced a massively overhauled 20-member squad for the two-Test home series against South Africa.
Wasim rewarded several top performers of the domestic season and included nine uncapped players in the squad, which will be trimmed to 16 players ahead of the first Test.
Top scoring batsmen Saud Shakeel, Kamran Ghulam, allrounder Agha Salman, left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, off-spinner Sajid Khan and fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Tabish Khan — all got call-ups for the series beginning on January 26 at the National Stadium here.
The selectors also upgraded young batsman Abdullah Shafique to the Test squad although he was selected for the New Zealand tour as a specialist T20 player and failed in his two outings.
Similarly, the selectors have also called up pacer Haris Rauf, another T20 specialist for the two-Test series.
The selectors also dropped six players from the dismal tour of New Zealand with Wasim insisting that fast bowler Naseem Shah was not in the Test squad because he had an injury.
About the ouster of left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, Wasim said the selectors had gone for specialist spinners in Nauman and Sajid Khan keeping in mind it was a home series.
Other players dropped from NZ tour include experienced pacers, Muhammad Abbas and Sohail Khan.
Saud Shakeel, Kamran Ghulam, Agha Salman, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Tabish Khan, Haris Rauf and Imran Butt are yet to play Tests for Pakistan.
Wasim, a former Test player, insisted that selectors would follow a horses for courses policy now and the squad had been picked keeping in mind the conditions in Pakistan for the SA series.
“Ideally we would like to have players who can adapt to all conditions like Babar Azam but we need time for that. But we want to develop players who can play in any conditions,” he said.
Wasim also said that Haris Rauf had been inducted into the Test squad because the selectors felt that the bowling attack lacked aggression in New Zealand and he would bring that element to the pace attack.
Wasim also said that the selectors had done their best to acknowledge the top performers of the domestic season.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict Covid-19 protocols. This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket.
“All those players who aspire to represent Pakistan at the global stage will not only have to feature in it but also perform at the expected levels to earn the selectors’ nod.
“Even the players who have been dropped will not go out of the system and will be closely monitored.”
Pakistan Test squad for SA series: Babar Azam (C), Muhammad Rizwan (VC), Imran Butt, Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Kamran Ghulam, Agha Salman, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan, Haris Rauf, Sajid Khan, Nauman Ali, Yasir Shah. Faheem Ashraf, Muhammad Nawaz.
The South African team will reach Karachi on Saturday.