Drama has engulfed the Pakistan Test squad ahead of their three-match series against Australia with Big Bash star Haris Rauf pulling out of the squad at the last minute adding to a list of unavailable players.
Rauf, who made his cricket breakthrough for the Melbourne Stars and was taken at pick nine in this year’s draft for the tournament, joins fellow frontline quicks Naseem Shah, Ihsanullah and Mohammad Hasnain as absentees for the three Test series with uncapped pacer Khurram Shahzad called up.
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He is one of three uncapped players named in an 18-member squad on Monday which includes a new captain, left-handed opener Shan Masood after Babar Azam stepped down.
Pakistan’s newly appointed chief selector Wahab Riaz said Rauf, who had confirmed his availability two days ago, pulled out on Sunday night despite several conversations to try to convince him to make the tour.
The medical panel of the Pakistan Cricket Board declared there were no fitness issues with Rauf and Riaz hit out at the fast bowler’s decision which could impact his ability to play for the Stars this season.
“We spoke to Haris Rauf for this tour,” Wahab said.
“When we spoke to him two days ago, he gave his consent to play Test cricket for Pakistan. But last night he changed his mind, and now he doesn’t want to be part of this Test series.
“He was worried about his body and fitness. Our physio spoke to him and said he wouldn’t expect any issue or injury.
“Of course there’s fatigue, but we were sure we could have managed that very well. But he pulled out at the last moment and he made himself unavailable. I think this will hurt Pakistan cricket.”
Experienced bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali will lead the attack with two spinners, Abrar Ahmed and left-armer Noman Ali are the specialist slow bowlers.
“We have kept the (Australian) pitches in mind and added more pace bowling resources to the team to ensure that the management can be flexible with the team combinations,” Riaz said.
The three Test series will begin in Perth before moving to Melbourne and Sydney, where veteran Australian opener David Warner is set to play his final Test.
PAKISTAN SQUAD TO TOUR AUSTRALIA
Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi.