Image courtesy of: Pakistan Cricket Board
Uncapped pace bowler Tabish Khan has finally been rewarded with a call-up to the Pakistan team after years of hard work and nearly 600 first-class wickets.
Tabish, who was one of nine uncapped players selected for the upcoming series against South Africa, has taken 598 wickets in 137 first-class matches at an average of 24.29.
In the recently-concluded edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the 36-year-old claimed 30 wickets in nine matches for Sindh at an average of 30.96.
Meanwhile, pace bowler Hasan Ali has returned to the Pakistan team after not playing international cricket since the 2019 World Cup.
Hasan made his comeback from recurring back injuries in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, where he captained Central Punjab.
He finished as the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 43 wickets in nine matches at an average of 20.06.
With the number of wickets he claimed, Hasan had the most wickets among pace bowlers in this year’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
He also got the job done with the bat in the final against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as he smashed an unbeaten 106, which came off 61 balls and included 10 boundaries and seven sixes.
His efforts nearly helped Central Punjab defend their title, but instead, the match ended as a tie and the trophy was shared between the two teams.
Ghulam was in scorching hot form in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, where he created history for scoring the most runs in a single edition of the tournament.
The 25-year-old accumulated 1,249 runs in 11 matches for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which includes five centuries and five fifties, at an average of 62.45.
He even made scores of 76 and 108 in the final, which ended as a tie.
Some of the other new faces in the squad include Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman, Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan.
Shakeel was the second-highest run-scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 970 run in 10 matches for Sindh, which included three centuries and five fifties, at an average of 57.05.
Salman was the third-highest run-scorer with 941 runs in 10 games for Southern Punjab, which included two hundreds and six half-centuries, at an average of 58.81.
Sajid was the top wicket-taker with 67 wickets in 11 matches for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at an average of 25.08.
Nauman was the second-highest wicket-taker with 61 wickets in 10 games for Northern at an average of 23.16.
With plenty of uncapped players coming in, Pakistan dropped batsman Haris Sohail, pace bowler Mohammad Abbas and opener Shan Masood.
Masood scored 10 runs in the two-Test series against New Zealand at an average of 2.50, while Haris accumulated 28 runs at an average of seven.
As for Abbas, he took four wickets at an average of 45.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Zafar Gohar was also dropped, while seamer Naseem Shah was not selected due to a hamstring niggle.
Zafar made his debut in the Test series against the Black Caps and scored 71 runs at an average of 35.50. However, he went wicketless in the one match he played.
Naseem, meanwhile, picked up four wickets in two Tests at an average of 73.
“I want to congratulate all the uncapped players who have made it to the 20-player Pakistan Test squad,” chief selector Mohammad Wasim said in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) press release. “These nine players are now just a step away from representing Pakistan in the pinnacle format of the game. As such, they have an outstanding opportunity to step-up show their class and potential, and perform strongly so that they can cement their places for future international assignments.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict Covid-19 protocols. This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket. All those players who aspire to represent Pakistan at the global stage will not only have to feature in it but also perform at the expected levels to earn the selectors’ nod.
“For the players who have narrowly missed out on selection, I want to encourage them to retain their focus and continue to work hard as we have a busy and packed 2021 ahead. This means there will potentially be opportunities at some stage down the year. I will like to see these players continue to focus on their fitness and form even after curtain falls on the 2020-21 season so that whenever they get a call-up, they are ready to cash in on the opportunity.”
Pakistan’s series against South Africa, which will consist of two Tests and three T20 Internationals, will start on January 26 and conclude on February 14.
Pakistan’s squad for the South Africa series: Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (captain), Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Agha Salman, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain), Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan