Imran Khan, the rookie paceman from Peshawar, has been rewarded for his excellent performances in the Pakistan domestic circuit with a first-time inclusion in the national T20 squad alongside Amir Yamin, another uncapped player, for the tour to Zimbabwe.
Shaharyar Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, approved the squads on Wednesday (September 16) for the Twenty20 and One-Day International matches for the Zimbabwe tour and the subsequent Test series against England in the UAE, following recommendations from a four-member selection committee headed by Haroon Rasheed.
Imran took 16 wickets to help Peshawar defend their national Twenty20 title in Rawalpindi, claiming his second successive best bowler award, having previously won it in 2014.
“We have rewarded some outstanding performers in the recently concluded tournament and Imran was one of them,” Haroon Rasheed, Pakistan’s chief selector, said in a PCB release.
In the naming of the squads, the selection committee consulted the Pakistan team head coach Waqar Younis and captains Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and Azhar Ali. Several key factors were also taken into consideration, primary being the rebuilding phase of Pakistan team, by retaining a majority of players who were part of the successful tour in Sri Lanka.
“In the light of Misbah-ul-Haq’s recommendations, we have kept the options open for the 16th player in the Test squad against England, picking two left-arm spin bowlers namely Zafar Gohar and Mohammad Asghar for the brace of practice games against England prior to the Test matches in the UAE. Whoever amongst the two performs well would be added to the Test squad,” said Rasheed.
Younus Khan was not selected for the ODI series after a poor run of scores in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March this year. Saeed Ajmal was the other senior player who was overlooked after failing to impress the selectors, since returning with a remodelled bowling action.
On the continuous process of building talent, Rasheed said, “Some budding youngsters have been recommended to be included in the Pakistan camp for the Zimbabwe tour to be held from the 17th till the 20th of September 2015 in Lahore.”
Shahid Afridi will lead the T20 side while Azhar Ali will be the skipper for the three ODIs on October 1, 3 and 5, all in Harare.
Some players are also making a comeback from injury. Sohaib Maqsood, the right-hand batsman, makes a return after recovering from an arm injury that ruled him out of the Bangladesh tour. Pakistan will also be boosted by the return of Wahab Riaz to all three formats, after he suffered a serious hand injury inflicted by Dushmantha Chameera during the Sri Lanka tour.
Anwar Ali will miss the T20 series owing to a groin strain, but Fawad Alam has been recalled to the Test team after a five-year absence. Alam last played against New Zealand in November 2009, but has scored loads of runs in first-class cricket, including two centuries and five fifties.
T20I squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Amir Yamin, Mohammad Irfan, Bilal Asif, Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Rizwan, Imran Khan.
ODI squad: Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Immad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Shafiq.
Test squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Zulfiaqr Babar, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan.