Opening batsman Saim Ayub and fast bowler Khurram Shehzad are on track to make their Test debut after being included in Pakistan’s squad for their upcoming tour of Australia.
Pakistan, under newly appointed red-ball captain Shan Masood, will play three Tests on the tour, in Perth (December 14-18), Melbourne (December 26-30) and Sydney (January 3-7).
The 21-year-old Ayub has already played eight T20Is for Pakistan, and comes into the Test squad with 1,069 first-class runs at an average of 46.47, including scores of 203 and 109 in his last outing in October, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final. Shahzad was also named in top form, having finished the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for the 2023-24 season as the top wicket-taker with 36 at an average of 20.30.
Left-arm pacer Mir Hamza was the second-highest catch of the tournament (32 at 20.87), and that’s what earned him the call-up. The last of his three Tests was against New Zealand in January. Also returning to the team is bowler Faheem Ashraf, whose last 16 Tests came in December 2022.
Apart from Naseem Shah, who continues his recovery from a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the recently concluded World Cup in India, Pakistan’s pace attack will also be without Haris Rauf, who has made himself unavailable for selection. Newly appointed chief selector Wahab Riaz made his disappointment clear while announcing the team: “Haris pulled out at the last minute and I feel this will hurt Pakistani cricket.”
Pakistan squad for Australia Test series: Shan Masood (capt), Aamer Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Nauman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi