In-form Hafeez recalled to Pakistan test team
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Mohammad Hafeez has been rewarded for his three centuries in four one-day internationals by being named in Pakistan’s 15-member test squad for a series against Sri Lanka.
Hafeez was dropped for the test series against South Africa due to poor form, but smashed 122, a career-best unbeaten 140 and 113 not out against Sri Lanka in the one-day series in the United Arab Emirates.
Hafeez scored only 102 runs in his last 10 test innings as he struggled against South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn before regaining his much-needed form against struggling Sri Lankan bowling attack in the UAE.
Fast bowler Mohammad Talha was also recalled after playing his only test match against Sri Lanka in March 2009 in Lahore when gunmen attacked the tourists’ team bus that killed six police officials and a van driver.
The incident has since forced foreign teams to play international matches in Pakistan and the Pakistan Cricket Board has opted UAE as its second home with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah hosting matches of its home series.
Talha forced his way back into the test team by claiming 11 wickets in the recent domestic first class match while representing Port Qasim Authority.
The other test specialists include openers Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood, middle order batsmen Younis Khan and Azhar Ali, wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, and fast bowler Rahat Ali.
Fast bowler Umar Gul also returned to the test team after recovering from knee surgery that sidelined him for nine months from international cricket. Gul impressed selectors with his form and fitness after taking six wickets in the last two one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan has dropped left-handed batsman Umar Amin and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar from the team that drew the test series against South Africa 1-1 in Oct.
Tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, who troubled the Proteas in the test series, was left out after fracturing his hip while bowling during a limited-overs series against South Africa.
The three-test series begins in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 31 with Dubai and Sharjah hosting the remaining two test matches.
Pakistan took an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the one-day series when it defeated Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the fourth match on Wednesday with Hafeez equaling Zaheer Abbas’ Pakistan record of three centuries in a bilateral ODI series.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement Thursday that flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who doesn’t play in test matches, will miss the fifth and final one-day international on Friday to be with his ill daughter in Pakistan.
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asaf Shafiq, Younis Khan, Adnan Akmal, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Rahat ali, Mohammad Talha.