Pakistan’s injured Shaheen to sit out England Tests

By AFP

LAHORE: Strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi will definitely miss the much-awaited three-match Test series against England starting next month after being left out of the 18-man squad announced by Pakistan on Monday.

Also missing is out-of-form leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who has taken 45 England wickets in nine Tests since his debut in 2014.

England have not played a Test match in Pakistan since 2005 — having declined to tour since because of the country’s precarious security situation — but played a successful Twenty20 series earlier this year. They are due to arrive in Islamabad on November 26, with the first Test in Rawalpindi from December 1-5.

Announcing Pakistan’s squad for the series, chief selector Mohammad Wasim said Shaheen’s long-term recovery was a priority.

The 22-year-old hurt his knee during the final of the T20 World Cup against England in Melbourne this month, but also had his appendix removed Sunday — a surgery that usually needs at least three weeks of recovery.

“Shaheen has been doing rehab so he was not available for selection,” Wasim said. “His injury is not bowling related, but… we do not want to risk aggravating that injury.”

Selectors still have concerns over the form of Shah, however.

Pakistan’s main Test spinner until last year was also dropped for the home series against Australia this year, but stormed back in July, taking nine wickets in two Tests in Sri Lanka.

“Yasir has been not in the form we wanted in this series so we have gone for Zahid Mahmood,” said Wasim.

Mahmood, 34, has played just four one-day internationals and one T20 for Pakistan but is yet to play a Test. Another uncapped spinner, the mesmerising Abrar Ahmed, is also part of the squad following his 43 wickets in domestic first-class matches.

“We have given importance to the current form in our first class season,” said Wasim.

Pacer Mohammad Ali, with 24 domestic first-class wickets this season, is another new name in the squad, as is Haris Rauf, a fast-bowling T20 star.

Former Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed also makes it back into the squad based on his domestic form. Star batsman Babar Azam will captain the team.

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakil, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood.

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