x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Selectors shake up Pakistan ahead of Tests against South Africa in UAE

Mohammad Hafeez is the most notable casualty from Pakistan’s drawn series against Zimbabwe after the out-of-form opener was left out of the Test squad to meet South Africa in the first Test at Abu Dhabi later this month

Pakistani spinner Mohammad Hafeez, left, has not been doing much celebrating of late with captain Misbah ul-Haq or any of his other teammates for that matter. Aamir Oureshi / AFP
Pakistani spinner Mohammad Hafeez, left, has not been doing much celebrating of late with captain Misbah ul-Haq or any of his other teammates for that matter. Aamir Oureshi / AFP

Agency

Mohammad Hafeez is the most notable casualty from Pakistan’s drawn series against Zimbabwe after the out-of-form opener was left out of the Test squad to meet South Africa in the first Test at Abu Dhabi later this month.

Hafeez, Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain, has scored just 102 in his past five Tests as he has toiled with the bat.

He managed 43 in a 3-0 Test defeat in South Africa in February and scored only 59 in the two-Test series against Zimbabwe last month, and those paltry returns have ensured he has missed out in the 12-man line-up that will again be led by Misbah-ul Haq, who had been confirmed as captain for the series last week.

Asad Shafiq, Faisal Iqbal, Shan Masood and Eshan Adil could also be cast to the sidelines after they were only included in the Pakistan A team to meet the South Africans in a warm-up match at Sharjah this week.

All four were a part of the Zimbabwe series, when Pakistan lost to the African minnows for the first time in 15 years in the second Test, but could yet be included for the South Africa series.

Pakistan’s selectors are due to include three players from a three-day warm-up match in Sharjah against a South African XI, that starts on Tuesday. The two-Test series begins in Abu Dhabi on October 14, and Pakistan’s batting ranks are expected to be bolstered with the omission of Hafeez leaving only Khurram Manzoor as a recognised opener at present.

Paceman Mohammad Irfan, at 7ft 1ins the tallest cricketer to play at international level, earned a Test recall despite an unimpressive two-match stint in South Africa earlier this year when he took just one wicket.

Uncapped left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, 34, has also been included in an indication Pakistan could play three spinners in Abu Dhabi, alongside Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman to take on Graeme Smith’s side.

Pakistan have not played a “home” Test series since they whitewashed England 3-0 in the UAE 20 months ago, when spin played a big part in helping them defeat the then No 1 side.

The two sides will also play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals, for which squads will be named later, the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement.