ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s cricket board has announced the inclusion of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi in the Test squad for their upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed the exciting news in a press release on Saturday, highlighting Afridi’s eagerness to make a strong comeback after missing the entire home season due to injury suffered in Sri Lanka.
“I am very excited to return to the same country where I got injured and make a significant impact in Test cricket. It will be even more special if I can achieve a century of wickets during this tour,” Afridi said, as quoted in the press release. The 2021 ICC Cricketer of the Year recently teased fans on Twitter, hinting at his return to red-ball cricket.
After a four-month absence, Afridi made his comeback for the national side in the Twenty20 International (T20I) and One-Day International (ODI) squads during the home series against New Zealand in April. The 23-year-old left-arm pacer is just one wicket away from reaching a century of Test wickets, a feat that no Pakistani bowler has accomplished since his debut in 2018. With an average of 24.86 and an economy rate of 3.04, Afridi has proven to be a formidable force on the field.
In addition to Afridi, the PCB board announced the inclusion of two uncapped players in the squad. All-rounder Aamir Jamal and batter Mohammad Huraira have earned their spots and will be part of the side that will face Sri Lanka in Pakistan’s first assignment in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship. The cricketing board praised Huraira’s impressive performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, where he emerged as the leading run-scorer in the last two editions.
Aamir, a teammate of Huraira in Northern and Shaheens, also secured his place after topping the wicket-takers chart for fast bowlers in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23. He claimed 31 scalps at an average of 29.71 and recorded two five-wicket hauls. PCB men’s chief selector Haroon Rashid commended the two new additions, stating that their consistent performances had earned them a place in the test side.
“We have carefully selected this squad considering the conditions and challenges our players will face in Sri Lanka. This series marks the beginning of the third round of the ICC World Test Championship, and we believe this squad is fully capable of providing us with a solid start,” Rashid added.
Furthermore, the PCB announced the appointment of Morne Morkel as the national side’s bowling coach on a six-month contract. The experienced South African cricketer, who claimed 309 wickets in 86 Tests, 188 wickets in 117 ODIs, and 47 scalps in 44 T20Is, last played an international game in September 2017 for World XI against Pakistan in Lahore.
The Pakistan squad for the series against Sri Lanka includes Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain and wicketkeeper), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi, and Shan Masood.