Shadab Khan, the 18-year-old legspinner, earned a call-up to Pakistan’s Test squad for the three-match series in West Indies after his heroics in the Twenty20 International series.
Shadab picked up 3 for 7 in a special debut and went on to add seven more wickets to his kitty as Pakistan completed a 3-1 series win over the world champions.
Hasan Ali, the medium-pacer whose 2 for 12 in the final T20I helped wrap up the series, was also rewarded.
The selectors on Wednesday (April 5) named a 16-member side led by Misbah-ul-Haq, ringing in the changes from the squad that was whitewashed 3-0 in Australia. Usman Salahuddin, 26, the middle-order batsman, and Mohammad Abbas, 27, the pacer, were the other new faces.
In naming Misbah as skipper, the selectors confirmed their faith in the veteran to lift the Test side out of a slump since their rise to No. 1 in the rankings last year.
Pakistan lost a Test to West Indies in Sharjah even though they won the series 2-1, were beaten 2-0 in New Zealand and then whitewashed in Australia 3-0. After the second Test in Melbourne in December, an upset Misbah, himself struggling for form, suggested it might be the last international he played, before softening his stand and committing himself to the team.
Tour to be Misbah’s last?
The West Indies Tests could be Misbah-ul-Haq’s last for Pakistan, according to Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman.
“No discussions have been held with Misbah regarding his retirement. However, a consensus has been reached that the Test matches against West Indies will be his last series,” Shaharyar was quoted as saying by Dawn.
The selection committee, for their part, gave no indication of Misbah’s future while naming him captain of the squad for the three-match series. Misbah, 42, himself had said he would take a call on retirement after the Pakistan Super League, but has since restated his commitment to the side.
He was on Wednesday named as one of the five Cricketers of the Year for 2016 by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
Ahmed Shehzad, the opener who enjoyed a successful Pakistan Super League and found international form with a timely half-century in the final T20I, returned, as did Shan Masood, who fell out of favour after poor scores in England last summer. The two were first and third in the list of top run-getters in the domestic Departmental One-Day Cup. Shehzad hasn’t featured in a Test since the 2-1 away series win in Sri Lanka in July 2015.
Salahuddin has played two ODIs for Pakistan, back in 2011 against West Indies, making 13 runs.
The uncapped Mohammad Asghar, the left-arm spinner who was on the squad to Australia, was retained, but Sami Aslam, Mohammad Nawaz and Sohail Khan were left out. Kamran Akmal, who made a comeback to international cricket in the T20I series, was also ignored despite being the highest run-getter (1035) in the 2016-17 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the premier first-class tournament in Pakistan.
“The Test team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions in the West Indies and the recent performances of players during the domestic and international season,” said Inzamam-ul-Haq, the chief selector. “The team is a fine blend of experience and youth and [we] believe [they] will do well.”
West Indies and Pakistan play three One-Day Internationals in Guyana starting Friday, before the first Test in Kingston from April 21. The next two Tests are at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown (April 30) and Windsor Park, Roseau (May 10).
The squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmad (vice-capt, wk), Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shahdab Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas.