Test team to be led by Misbah-ul-Haq
Pakistan has dropped out-of-form opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez for this month’s two-Test series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates.
The axing of Hafeez was expected after he scored only 102 runs in the last five test matches this year, including three against South Africa and two against lowly-ranked Zimbabwe.
South Africa is the team against which Hafeez has always struggled, scoring only one half century and a total of 307 runs in 18 innings.
The selectors have named 12 players for the test series while three more will be added after Pakistan ‘A’ plays a three-day warmup match against the Proteas next week at Sharjah.
Abu Dhabi will host the first test from Oct. 14-18 while the second test will be played at Dubai from Oct. 23-27.
The Test team will be led by Misbah-ul-Haq, who has also come under criticism after Pakistan lost four of its last five test matches this year.
South Africa whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in February before Zimbabwe shocked Misbah with a victory in the second test at Harare last month to level the series 1-1.
Wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal returned to the team after being ignored for the test series against Zimbabwe while selectors also named three specialist spinners Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman and uncapped Zulfiqar Babar in the hope that the wickets will suit slow bowlers in the UAE like it did against England last year.
Pakistan whitewashed England 3-0 in 2012 with offspinner Ajmal taking 24 wickets in the three test matches against the then-No. 1 ranked team.
Babar also impressed in this week’s three-day practice match between PCB XI and Chief Minister’s XI when he took six wickets in an innings at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
The 12-man squad also includes three leftarm fast bowlers, Junaid Khan, 7-foot-1 Mohammad Irfan and Rahat Ali.
Pakistan will be heavily relying on its experienced middle order batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah along with Azhar Ali and Umar Amin. Another middle order batsman, Asad Shafiq, might also make the final 15-member squad, but needs to do well in the warmup match against South Africa.
Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Khurram Manzoor, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Umar Amin, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali.