Pakistan recalls Taufeeq Umar for 1st test
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan recalled opening batsmen Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez on Saturday and named three uncapped players for the 16-man squad for the first test against Australia.
The 33-year-old Umar has played 43 tests but the left-hander last competed for his country against Sri Lanka in 2012.
The first of two tests starts Wednesday in Dubai where Hafeez is also likely to make a comeback after being ignored for the August series against Sri Lanka, which Pakistan lost 2-0.
“Taufeeq and Hafeez have been recalled due to their experience,” chief selector Moin Khan said. “Taufeeq was last dropped due to fitness instead of form, but was not selected for the Sri Lanka tour considering the opposition, conditions and team requirement.”
Khan said Hafeez offers flexibility in the absence of Saeed Ajmal, who has been suspended by the ICC due to his illegal bowling action.
“Hafeez gives the captain an extra spin option,” Khan said.
Rookie middle-order batsman Haris Sohail has been rewarded for his century in Pakistan A’s 153-run victory against Australia in the warm-up match which ended Saturday while the other two uncapped players are fast bowler Imran Khan and legspinner Yasir Shah.
Selectors also named two other openers in Ahmed Shehzad — who scored half centuries in the warm-up — and Shan Masood in the squad.
In the absence of Ajmal and injured fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan, Pakistan will be relying on its second-string fast bowlers Rahat Ali and Mohammad Talha, along with left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, on the slow wickets of the United Arab Emirates.
Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was considered for selection, but selectors decided not to take any risk with the 2.16-meter (7-foot-1) paceman as the World Cup is just four months away in Australia.
“We considered Irfan (for test matches) but decided not to include him in order to preserve him because we need to carefully manage his workload before the World Cup,” Khan said.
Australia won the one-off Twenty20 and routed Pakistan 3-0 in the one-day series, mainly due to the struggling form of Pakistan’s middle order. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq sat out the last ODI due to lack of his batting form which has seen Pakistan lose not only the test series in Sri Lanka but also the ODI series.
However, the return of test specialists Azhar Ali and Younis Khan could bolster Pakistan’s middle order against Australia while Asad Shafiq also scored a century in the warm-up match.
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Taufeeq Umar, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed, Ehsan Adil, Imran Khan, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar.