Off-spinner Bilal Asif and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf have been made a comeback to the Test side for the opening game against Bangladesh that will be played at Rawalpindi. Bilal Asif has played five-match Test series and last made his appearance in 2018. He has been included in the 16-member squad for the first game of the series. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf also has earned a comeback to the national side.
Pacer Usman Shinwari and all-rounder Kashif Bhatti have been dropped from the side for the opening Test. Head Coach Misbah ul Haq said that Usman Shinwari and Kashif Bhatti will remain part of the plans in red-ball cricket despite being dropped from the Test squad.
Bilal Asif has been selected as selectors felt Bangladesh have a lot of left-handed players in the batting lineup. Faheem Ashraf was picked for his all-round abilities with bat and ball. Following their previous series win against Sri Lanka at home, the playing XI is expected to remain the same for the opening game against Bangladesh.
In Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Bilal Asif has claimed 43 wickets in 9 matches. His tremendous performances have earned him a recall to the national side. Faheem Ashraf has also shown decent form with the bat and accumulated 118 runs at an average of 59. With the ball in hand, Ashraf has claimed eight wickets in three matches.
The two-match Test series is a part of ICC’s World Test Championship. The opening game of the series will be played at Rawalpindi on 7th February. The second and final game will be played on 5th April in Karachi. The one-off ODI will be played in Karachi on 3rd April.
Pakistan Squad for opening Test: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Shaheen Afridi, Shaan Masood, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Yasir Shah.