Pakistan’s selectors Saturday included teenage pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi in a 15-man squad for the first two of the three Tests against New Zealand starting in Abu Dhabi next week.
The 18-year-old has been in a devastating form in the ongoing one-day series in United Arab Emirates, taking 4-46 and 4-38 in the two matches so far. The third and final one-day international is in Dubai on Sunday.
He also took 3-20 in a Twenty20 match against New Zealand and four wickets in two Twenty20 internationals against Australia last month, also in UAE.
The sensational pace bowler emerged on the scene last year, taking 8-39 in an innings in his first class debut, the best-ever figures by a Pakistani bowler in his first match.
Pakistan and New Zealand play the first Test in Abu Dhabi November 16-20. The second match will be in Dubai November 24-28 while the final Test is also in Abu Dhabi December 3-7. A squad for the final Test will be announced later.
“Shaheen has been included in the squad keeping into account his current form,” said chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq Inzamam. “He has impressed with his bowling.”
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir is still sidelined after his recent poor form while another paceman Wahab Riaz was dropped after being wicket-less in the first Test against Australia last month.
Also left out of the squad is opener Fakhar Zaman who made his debut in the second Test against Australia in Abu Dhabi last month, scoring 94 and 66 – apparently to rest his knee injury.
Left-hander Saad Ali was selected again after his fighting hundred for Pakistan ‘A’ against New Zealand ‘A” in Abu Dhabi this week but there was no place for Shan Masood who hit centuries in each innings of the first side game between the “A” teams in Dubai last month.
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Saad Ali, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hassan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza.