Crescent Kashmir

Shaheen returns for SL Tests; Hurraira, Jamal handed maiden call-ups

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Ace fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi has been named in Pakistan’s Test squad for the forthcoming series in and against Sri Lanka, marking his return to the longest form of the game at the very country he played the last of his 25 Tests so far. The national selectors have also handed maiden call-ups to batter Mohammad Hurraira and all-rounder Aamir Jamal in the 16-member squad.

Squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi and Shan Masood
Afridi suffered a knee injury in the first Test at Galle last year. It subsequently left him requiring a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation program that forced him out of the Asia Cup. Another injury suffered at the T20 World Cup in Australia meant the 23-year-old didn’t feature in any of the Tests of the home season. He is one short of the 100-wicket mark in the format and has taken his wickets at a very impressive average of 24.85.

“I am very excited to be returning to the Pakistan Test side after a year. I dearly missed Test cricket and it was tough for me to be away from this format,” Shaheen was quoted as saying in a PCB media release.

“After missing our entire home season because of the injury I suffered in Sri Lanka, I am eager to make an impactful comeback in the same country and complete a century of wickets in Test cricket. I want to thank my fans who have provided me support in tough times and I am ready for the challenges ahead.”

Meanwhile, the call-up for Hurraira, the 21-year-old batter from Sialkot, had seemed imminent after an impressive run in the domestic circuit, where he topped the batting charts in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for two seasons in a row. In 11 matches last season, Hurraira hit 1024 at 73.14 including four centuries and two half-centuries.

Hurraira will be joined by his Northern teammate Jamal. The 26-year-old from Mianwali topped the bowling charts last season, finishing with 31 wickets at 29.71 including two five-fers. Jamal played two T20Is for the national team against England late last year.

“I want to congratulate all the players who have been selected in the side, especially Mohammad Huraira and Aamir Jamal who have pushed their case through impressive performances over a period of time,” chief selector Haroon Rashid said.

“The conditions in Sri Lanka largely favour finger spinners – something that we have seen over the years and during Pakistan’s last visit to the island – so we have three such bowlers to go with the mystery spin of Abrar Ahmed. At the same time, we cannot overlook the need for fast bowlers and, as such, we have included four pacers so the captain and team management have ample resources on the tour. We boast a strong batting line-up, which I am confident will do well in the two matches.”

Meanwhile, PCB have confirmed the appointment of former South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel as the teams’ bowling coach. Morkel will join the squad on July 3 for a pre-series camp in Karachi before the team’s departure for Sri Lanka on July 9. The tour itinerary will be subsequently released.

© Cricbuzz

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