Yasir Shah celebrates during a Test match against England. File
Pakistan announced a 18-member squad for the upcoming two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in July, with the veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah making his comeback.
Yasir was instrumental to Pakistan’s success in red-ball cricket over the last few years before injuries forced him on the sidelines.
He last played a Test in August 2021. However, the 36-year-old has now earned his place back in the side for the upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, where Pakistan will play two World Test Championship Tests, starting on July 16.
Yasir played a vital role the last time Pakistan toured Sri Lanka for a Test series. The visitors won the series 2-1, with the leggie finishing as the highest wicket-taker with 24 wickets in three matches at an average of 19.33. Mohammad Nawaz also made a return after missing the Test series at home against Australia. On the other hand, uncapped all-rounder Salman Ali Agha has received a maiden call-up to the Test squad.
A right-arm batter and a right-arm off-spinner by trade, Salman has been rewarded for his consistent returns in first-class cricket where he aggregated 4,224 runs and taken 88 wickets. Babar Azam will lead the side in the two Tests that will have major implications on the World Test Championship standings.
The two sides are nip and tuck in the table with Sri Lanka at fourth with a point percentage of 55.56 while Pakistan are a spot below with 52.38 percentage.
“We have selected this squad considering the conditions in Sri Lanka and have equipped the team with the best possible resources. Our spin department is boosted with the return of Yasir Shah, who proved himself as a match-winner in Sri Lanka on our last tour and Sajid Khan has made the way for him,” said chief selector Muhammad Wasim.
“The spin department also includes two spin all-rounders in Mohammad Nawaz and Salman Ali Agha and left-arm orthodox Nauman Ali. Salman has shown consistent performances with the bat in the past three seasons and he is a handy off-spin option.
“Our team has recently put strong performances in Bangladesh and although results against Australia were not ideal we displayed solid cricket and for that reason we have retained the core to instill consistency and continuity and have trimmed the squad size following the relaxation in Covid-19-induced travel restrictions.
“These two matches are extremely crucial for our side as we have World Test Championship points at stake,” he added.
Pakistan will arrive on July 6 for the series that will begin in Galle before the action moves to Colombo for the second Test. The visitors will also play a three-day warm-up game before the start of the series.
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.