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LAHORE: Chief selector Wahab Riaz has announced an 18-member Pakistan Test squad for the tour to Australia comprising three test matches scheduled from 14th December 2023 to 7th January 2024.

Shan Masood will be leading the side in his first assignment as Test captain. He was named Pakistan’s captain for the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycles after taking over the reins from Babar Azam last week.

Left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub has earned his maiden call-up to the Test team after an impressive run in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24. The 22-year-old scored 553 runs in four matches for Karachi Whites and had three centuries to his name, including a match-winning double century against Faisalabad in the final of the tournament.

He 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.

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 returned to the squad. Left-arm pacer Mir Hamza, who registered 32 wickets at 20.88 in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, and right-arm pacer Mohammad Wasim Junior are 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.

Pakistan squad for Australia Tests: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Junior, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Chief selector Wahab Riaz, who took charge of the national men’s selection committee last week, reflecting on the squad selected for the Australia tour, said: “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.”

Wahab said, “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.”

The test squad will assemble in Rawalpindi on 22nd November for a training camp ahead of the tour. The camp is scheduled to run from November 23 to 28 at Pindi Cricket Stadium. The team will fly out on 30 November from Lahore. Some additional players have also been invited to feature in the training camp. The players called for the camp are Arshad Iqbal, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usama Mir and Usman Qadir.

Full schedule:

1st Test – Perth, 14-18 December 2023

2nd Test – Melbourne, 26-30 December 2023

3rd Test – Sydney, 3-7 January 2024.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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