Pakistan on Friday included lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan in a 16-man squad for next month’s three Tests against world number one side South Africa, but there was no place for the three Akmal brothers.
The 30-year-old Irfan, who is said to be seven foot one inch tall, impressed with his steepling bounce during Pakistan’s recent tour to India where he featured in all three one-day matches and two Twenty20 internationals.
But he has yet to play a Test.
The Test squad, led by Misbah-ul Haq, will open with a four-day side match at East London from January 25 before the first Test in Johannesburg from February 1.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said separate squads for two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day matches, which follow the Tests, will be announced later.
Surprisingly, none of the three Akmal brothers – Kamran, Umar and Adnan – are part of the Test squad and no selector was available to say why.
Adnan has been a regular in Pakistan’s Test squad as specialist wicket-keeper. Although he was injured during Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka last June he played in the ongoing first class season. He is replaced by Sarfraz Ahmed.
Nineteen-year-old paceman Ehsan Adil was also selected for the first time after impressing during the Junior World Cup in Australia last year. Adil has taken 56 wickets in ten first-class matches this season.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman also returns to the squad after being banned for a failed dope test during the county season in England last year. He will partner the wily off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
The pace squad will be led by the experienced Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Irfan.
Uncapped left-hander Haris Sohail and Faisal Iqbal also retained their places in the squad after failing to play any match on the Sri Lanka tour while left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed, who has yet to play a Test, also made the cut.
Squad: Misbah-ul Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Ehsan Adil, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Haris Sohail, Faisal Iqbal, Taufeeq Umar.
Jan 25-28 vs SA invitation XI at East London
Feb 1-5 Ist Test at Johannesburg
Feb 14-18 Second Test Cape Town
Feb 22-26 Third Test Centurion
March 1 Ist Twenty20 at Durban
March 3 Second T20 at Centurion
March 6 SA invitation XI side match at Kimberley
March 10 Ist one-day international at Bloemfontein
March 15 Second one-day international at Centurion
March 17 Third one-day international at Johannesburg
March 21 Fourth one-day international at Durban
March 24 Fifth one-day international at Benoni