The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has today announced the frontline squad for the upcoming two-match test series against New Zealand that is scheduled to start on Boxing Day 2022, i.e. 26th December. New Zealand will now be one of the many nations to tour Pakistan after a brief period alongside England, South Africa and the West Indies who visited the subcontinental nation earlier.
Pakistan suffered a humiliating whitewash in the recently concluded three-match test series against England. PCB will be aiming to likely recover from the woes of defeat and have backed the players to come out with a fresh approach. Based on the performance against England, PCB has decided to make some changes in the test squad.
In a major breakthrough for young cricketer Kamran Ghulam, the batsman has been called into the squad for the New Zealand test series. Ghulam had been a part of the test squad since early 2021 and was also amongst the reserves for the Australian series. However, in view of a decisive batting attack, Ghulam failed to get an opportunity. It will be interesting to find out how his fortunes change in the upcoming series.
Injury concerns had been looming over the Pakistan contingent quite for a while now. Some major relief was reported from the pace bowling department where Hasan Ali has recovered and been named in the squad. Ace paceman Naseem Shah who was struggling with a shoulder strain and missed the last two tests against England has also been declared fit and retained in the squad.
However, Pakistan will continue to miss the services of veteran pacemen Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf. Both the senior pacers are undergoing treatment to their grievous injuries and will likely remain out of action for a brief period.
Dropped from the squad are Mohammed Ali and Faheem Ashraf who failed to express themselves on field. Pakistan has been largely struggling with its middle-order batting and a sluggish old-bowl bowling attack. After the defeat against England, Pakistan have slipped to the seventh position at the ICC World Test Championship rankings and are likely out of the race to play the finals.
Here is Pakistan’s squad for the New Zealand series:
Babar Azam ©, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Shan Masood, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Zahid Mahmood, Noman Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel
The first test between Pakistan and New Zealand will kickstart on 26th December at Karachi followed by the second test in Multan from January 3.