Opening batter Saim Ayub and fast bowler Khurram Shahzad are in line for Test debuts after being included in Pakistan’s squad for their upcoming tour of Australia for a three-match Test series starting on December 18.
Wahab Riaz, the new chief selector of Pakistan, announced the squad for the upcoming Test tour of Australia with Shan Masood as the new captain for the 2023-25 World Test Championship cycle. Masood took over the reins from former skipper Babar Azam, who stepped down as the all-format leader after Pakistan’s World Cup 2023 debacle.
Ayub was inducted into the Test squad for the first time after his prolific returns in the domestic circuit. Following his consistent performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first-class competition, his recent exploits in the Pakistan Cup 2023-24 season earned him the maiden opportunity. The 21-year-old has represented Pakistan in eight T2oIs.
“Saim Ayub has been added to the squad after the extraordinary domestic season he has had this year,” Wahab said. “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.”
Pacer Khurram Shahzad, who ended the 2023-24 first-class season as the highest wicket-taker with 36 scalps at an average of 20.30, is another fresh face added to the squad and is in contention for an international debut.
Left-arm fast-bowler Mir Hamza returned after being left out for Pakistan’s series against Sri Lanka on the back of his terrific first-class season, where he emerged as the second leading wicket-taker with 32 at 20.87 apiece. Fast-bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also made a comeback having played his last Test in December 2022.
Naseem Shah continues to recover from a shoulder injury that sidelined him from the World Cup, while Haris Rauf made himself unavailable for selection, according to Wahab.
“We had a talk with Haris Rauf for this tour,” he said. “When we talked with him two days back, he gave his consent that he will play Test cricket for Pakistan. But last night, he changed his mind and he doesn’t want to be part of this Australia Test series.”
Pakistan squad for Australia 2023-24 Test tour: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hassan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shehzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim jr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi