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Uncapped Saim Ayub, Khurram Shahzad named in Pakistan squad for Australia tour

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LAHORE: Wahab Riaz, the head of the national men’s selection committee, today announced an 18-member Pakistan squad for the Test tour of Australia, featuring the uncapped pace bowler Khurram Shahzad and opening batter Saim Ayub.

Pakistan is scheduled to play a three-match Test series against Australia commencing from 14 December 2023 to 7 January 2024.

This will be Shan Masood’s first assignment as Test captain, after being named Pakistan’s captain for the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle following Babar Azam’s resignation last week.

Left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub has earned his maiden call-up to the Test team after an impressive run in the recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24.

The 22-year-old scored 553 runs in four matches for Karachi Whites, with the help of three centuries, including a match-winning double-century against Faisalabad in the final of the tournament.

Saim Ayub continued his form in the Pakistan Cup (one-day tournament), where he was named the best batter of the tournament, ending as the competition’s highest run-getter.

Meanwhile, right-arm fast bowler Khurram Shahzad has also been awarded his maiden Test call-up, on the back of a successful domestic season thus far.

The 23-year-old was the highest wicket-taker of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24 with 36 wickets in eight matches at an average of 20.31 and picked up 13 wickets at 16.62 in the recently concluded Pakistan Cup.

Pace bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who last appeared in Tests for Pakistan during England’s tour of Pakistan in late 2022 has also been recalled to the squad.

Left-arm pacer Mir Hamza, who was the second wicket-taker after registering 32 wickets at 20.88 in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, and right-arm pacer Mohammad Wasim Jnr. are also making a return to the squad as well.

The two fast bowlers were part of Pakistan’s squad during New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan that took place from December 2022 to January 2023.

Wahab Riaz, who was handed over the responsibility as chief selector of the Pakistan cricket team last week, reflected on the squad selected for the Australia tour.

“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,” said Wahab Riaz.

“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.”

Pakistan’s squad will partake in a training camp from 23 to 28 November at Pindi Cricket Stadium to prepare for the tour.

In addition to the selected played in the squad, some additional players have also been invited to feature in the training camp, including, Arshad Iqbal, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usama Mir and Usman Qadir.

The team will depart from Lahore on 30 November and will kick off the Test series with the first Test in Perth from 14-18 December 2023.

Pakistan squad for the tour of Australia

Shan Masood (c), 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

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