KARACHI: Chief selector Mohammad Wasim makes a point during his media conference at the National Stadium on Friday.— PCB
KARACHI: Nine uncapped players were inducted on Friday in a new-look Pakistan squad for the upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa as new chief selector Mohammad Wasim wielded axe on eight members — including Shan Masood, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah — of the side that toured New Zealand recently.
Included in the 20-man party for the first time in the longest format are batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman and Abdullah Shafiq, who will compete with Imran Butt to partner Abid Ali at the top of the order, while spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan have been picked alongside pace duo of Tabish Khan and Haris Rauf.
Hasan Ali has been recalled after the fit-again Pakistan paceman — who last played for the country during the 2019 50-over World Cup in England — had performed brilliantly while leading Central Punjab in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. All-rounder Mohammad Nawaz has also returned to the Test fold after four years in the wilderness.
Apart from Shan, Haris Sohail, Abbas and Naseem, the selectors have left out Shadab Khan, Imam-ul-Haq, Sohail Khan and Zafar Gohar with Wasim categorically saying all these players will now spend their time either at the Lahore-based National High Performance Centre or respective regional centres to work on their flaws.
Announcing the squad — that will be pruned to 16 members for the start of the opening Test at here from Jan 26 — at a crowded media conference at the National Stadium, Wasim welcomed the newcomers in an acknowledgment of being consistent performers in domestic competitions.
“These [nine] players are now just a step away from playing for Pakistan in the highest form of cricket and they have been afforded a golden chance to showcase their class and potential,” Wasim, who scored 107 on his Test debut against New Zealand at Lahore in 1996, said.
“This is just reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance in what has been a difficult period because the season is being staged under strict Covid-19 protocols with players confined to bio-secure bubble environment.”
The axing of Shan and Haris was always on the cards after both left-handers endured a horrendous series in New Zealand as Pakistan lost both Tests at Mount Maunganui and Christchurch. The Kuwait-born Shan, in particular, looked far from the opener who came of age during last year’s tour of England by scoring a splendid 156 at Old Trafford.
But since that game in Manchester, Shan had reached double figures only twice in the next eight Test innings — his wretched sequence being: 0, 1, 4, 18 (against England), 10, 0, 0, 0 (in New Zealand) — while averaging a more-than-pathetic 4.12 in mustering just 33 runs.
Haris, who skipped the England series, scored mere 28 runs in four innings of the New Zealand Tests while entering double figures only once — 15 in the second innings at the Hagley Oval.
Likewise, seamer Abbas had been found wanting in the wicket-taking column, starting from the home series against Sri Lanka in December 2019 to the New Zealand tour, claiming just 18 wickets across six Tests despite still averaging 22.80 for his overall haul of 84 wickets in 23 matches.
Naseem, the youngest to claim a Test hat-trick (against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi last February), had picked up just six wickets in his last five Tests. According to Wasim, the 17-year-old paceman had been sidelined over fitness issues.
“My message to all of them not selected for the South Africa series is: improve their levels of performance and fitness while working out their technical flaws and get back into contention,” Wasim stated.
“It is obvious that both Shan and Haris have been dropped because of their inferior showing in recent series. Moreover, the omission of Shan has opened doors for either Imran Butt or Abdullah Shafiq to partner Abid Ali. Imran had an outstanding season in 2019-20 during which he scored more than 900  runs, while Abdullah may have played just one first-class match [scoring 133 on debut] but has the talent to succeed in red-ball cricket. Both these youngsters were members of the Pakistan Shaheens squad in New Zealand recently.
“Naseem certainly has fitness problems and the same applies to Shadab. We expect them to regain top fitness as soon as possible.
“The bowlers we have picked were considered on form and consistency. Tabish and Haris Rauf have been picked for different reasons. Tabish had been performing season after season [364 first-class wickets over past five seasons at 22.80 with a strike-rate of 43.92 balls per wicket]. Regardless of his age , he has been preferred over Sohail Khan since he is more effective in our conditions.
“Haris may not have played much at the first-class level [three matches] but we feel that he is someone with the X-factor. How many bowlers in Pakistan are clocking 150kph regularly? Haris has the ability to reverse swing in our conditions and is not afraid to bowl bouncers,” Wasim remarked.
“Kamran Ghulam [record tally of 1,249 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy], Saud Shakeel [970 runs] and Agha Salman [941 runs] all merited call-ups as do [34-year-old slow left-armer from Sanghar] Nauman Ali [61 first-class wickets this season] and [off-spinner] Sajid Khan [season’s leading wicket-taker with 67 victims at 25.08].
“It would have been easy for us to overlook Yasir Shah [14 wickets across last four Tests] and go for another leg-spinner in Zahid Mahmood. But we think it is very risky to blood a couple of uncapped spinners in the same playing XI against a very good South Africa team. Yasir gets the nod purely for his experience [227 wickets from 43 Tests] of international cricket and for the fact that he is familiar with the home conditions,” Wasim added.
The second Test of the South Africa series will be played at Rawalpindi from Feb 4 to 8, followed by three Twenty20 Internationals in Lahore, with the selectors set to name that squad before the final Test.
Openers: Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Abdullah Shafiq (Central Punjab), Imran Butt (Balochistan); Middle-order batsmen: Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Kamran Ghulam (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Agha Salman (Southern Punjab), Saud Shakeel (Sindh);
All-rounders: Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern); Wicket-keepers: Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh); Spinners: Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Yasir Shah (Balochistan); Fast bowlers: Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Tabish Khan (Sindh).
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021
The South African cricket team arrived in Karachi on Saturday to play two Tests and three Twenty20 internationals on their first tour of Pakistan in 14 years.
The team, led by wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, was whisked from the airport under state-head level security accorded by the hosts, the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The 21-member squad had two Covid-19 tests before their departure from Johannesburg which all came back negative, and they will be further tested on their arrival.
Officials say the squad will stay in individual isolation until the results of the first round of testing are released before they start training in a ground adjacent to their hotel.
After the end of the quarantine period, the team will start practice training at Karachi's National Stadium, according to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Pakistan and South Africa will play the first Test in Karachi from January 26.
The second Test starts in Rawalpindi from February 4 while Lahore will host all three Twenty20 internationals on February 11, 13 and 14.
South Africa's head coach Mark Boucher has showed satisfaction with the security arrangements in Pakistan.
“We've had our [security] guys go there [to Pakistan] and do a recce of the situation and they have said it is safe,” Boucher told reporters ahead of the team's departure on Friday.
“So from my side there are no issues, we have to get back there and start playing cricket,” said Boucher, part of South Africa's last tour to Pakistan in 2007.
International cricket was suspended in Pakistan following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
Pakistan has gradually hosted teams again in the last five years before Test cricket was revived in late 2019 when Sri Lanka toured for two Tests.
South Africa squad:
Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Kyle Verreynne, Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde, Daryn Dupavillon, Marco Jansen.
Pak vs SA: 'Emotional moment' for Aleem Dar to officiate first Test in Pakistan
Aleem Dar to officiate Test in Pakistan after 17 years
On-field umpire Ahsan Raza and match referee Mohammad Javed Malik to make Test debuts
Spitting saliva on ball not allowed in series against South Africa
LAHORE: The upcoming Pakistan's series against South Africa will be a special moment for Aleem Dar as he will be officiating a Test for the first time in his home country.
The PCB on Saturday released the details of the umpires that will officiate the series against South Africa confirming that Aleem Dar will be there.
Dar, quoted by the PCB, acknowledged that it will be an "emotional moment" for him.
"It has been nearly a 17-year and 132-Test wait, but its about to be over. Like the players, the match officials also want to umpire in matches on home ground, something we achieve in white-ball cricket, but Test cricket remains the pinnacle format and I am delighted that I will be standing in the two Tests between two excellent sides,” said Dar.
Apart from Dar, on-field umpire Ahsan Raza and match referee Mohammad Javed Malik will also make their Test debuts.
The press release said that the board confirmed the match officials’ appointments on behalf of the International Cricket Council for the two-match series between Pakistan and South Africa, which starts in Karachi on 26 January.
The PCB said that Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz will be the third and fourth umpires, while Javed Malik will head the playing control team for both the Tests.
"As per the ICC’s interim playing regulations, the requirement to appoint third country officials has temporarily been removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel," said the PCB regarding the absence of neutral umpires.
For the three-match T20I series, Javed Malik will continue to be the match referee, while Aleem and Ahsan Raza will be the on-field umpires for the first match with Shozab Raza in the TV umpire’s box and Asif Yaqoob as fourth umpire.
The PCB said that Shozab Raza and Asif Yaqoob will officiate the second T20I with Ahsan Raza and Rashid Riaz as third and fourth umpires. On the other hand, Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz will be the on-field umpires for the third T20I with Ahsan Raza and Shozab Raza as third and fourth umpires, respectively.
ICC’s interim playing regulations for series
The PCB also released the ICC-mandated interim playing regulations of the series.
Under the rules there is a ban on applying saliva to the ball because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball," said the PCB. It added that if a player does use saliva then the umpires will respond leniently to allow the players to adjust. However, if it is done repeatedly then officials may give the team a warning.
"A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a 5-run penalty to the batting side," said the PCB
During the series an additional unsuccessful DRS review will be given to teams as there will be "less experienced umpires on duty at times".
The PCB has also stated that the ICC Cricket Operations team will support Match Referees to process the Code of Conduct breaches and a neutral Elite Panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video link.
Umpire roster for Pakistan vs South Africa
26-30 Jan – 1st Test. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
4-8 Feb – 2nd Test. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
11 Feb – 1st T20I. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Shozab Raza (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
13 Feb – 2nd T20I. Shozab Raza and Asif Yaqoob (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
14 Feb – 3rd T20I. Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Shozab Raza (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee).
Boucher expects 'great series' against 'dangerous' Pakistan
In the 26 contests so far, South Africa have won 15, while Pakistan have been victorious on four occasions
Pakistan Cricket Board in Lahore
16 January, 2021
PHOTO COURTESY: CSA
Pakistan men’s national cricket team will be hoping to make the best out of the two Test-match series against South Africa, which commences from 26 January at the National Stadium in Karachi.
This will be Pakistan’s first home Test against South Africa in more than 13 years. South Africa who last visited Pakistan in 2007 and won the two Test-match series 1-0, will aim to continue their winning streak over the host country.
Both sides met for the first time in 1995 at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, which the home team won on the fifth day by 324 runs. In the 26 contests so far, South Africa have won 15, while Pakistan have been victorious on four occasions.
The last Test between the both sides was in January 2019 in Johannesburg which the home team won by 107 runs.
Pakistan have hosted seven Test matches at their home soil (Pakistan) in which the hosts have won one, lost two and four have remained drawn. In the only Test match hosted at National Stadium in Karachi in October 2007, South Africa defeated Pakistan by 160 runs, becoming only the second team in history to beat Pakistan at the venue.
In the current Pakistan Test squad, Azhar Ali has faced the opponents in 10 Test matches scoring 481 runs at an average of 25.31. Captain Babar Azam has scored 221 runs at an average of 36.83 from three Test matches with two half-centuries.
Among the bowlers, left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi has featured in two Test matches against South Africa, taking nine wickets. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf in his one outing against the tourists took six wickets.
Among the South African touring party, captain Quinton de Kock has scored 251 runs in three Tests against Pakistan at 62.75. Former captain Faf du Plessis follows with a tally of 246 runs in seven Tests at 27.33,
Among the bowlers, Kagiso Rabada leads the pack with 17 wickets that he picked up in the last series between the two sides at 18.70.
Pakistan head coach Misbah ul Haq said: “South Africa have never been an easy side to beat, but them playing after 13 years in Pakistan will be an advantage for us, and we have a great chance to improve our record against them.
“The two Test matches in the ICC World Championship are very important for us and we will try to get maximum points out of it to improve our position on the table.
“Playing at home ground is always encouraging for the players, and it reflected in our performances in the series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year.
“The series against South Africa is an important one, and I am sure the players selected in the squad have the potential and hunger to give best results in the series.”
South Africa head coach Mark Boucher said: “Pakistan is a dangerous side at home; we will have to come up with a proper strategy to beat them at their own backyard.
“The wickets here in Pakistan are batting friendly, and we are relying on our batsmen to score runs. Their confidence will be high after scoring runs against Sri Lanka. Our fast bowlers will have to work very hard to get wickets.
“Pakistan bowlers will have home advantage, so this series will be a test for our batsmen, but once they are successful in occupying the crease, they will be able to score freely.
“We are excited to play in Pakistan again, and expect a great series ahead with all focus on the game.”
'Welcome to Pakistan': Twitter reacts as Proteas arrive in Pakistan
The Proteas reached Jinnah International Airport, Karachi on Saturday morning
16 January, 2021
PHOTO COURTESY: PCB
The South African cricket team has arrived in Pakistan for a historic tour after 14 years and the fans in the country have taken to Twitter to give a warm welcome to the tourists with overwhelming support and well wishes.
The Proteas reached Jinnah International Airport, Karachi on Saturday morning through a chartered flight, and were whisked from the airport under state-head level security accorded by the hosts.
The South African cricket team is set to play two Tests and three Twenty20 internationals on their first tour of Pakistan in 14 years. The first Test is scheduled to begin in Karachi on January 26.
The Cricket South Africa said on Sunday that their cricket team members have tested negative for the novel coronavirus in the first round of testing conducting upon their arrival in the sea port city on Saturday.
"The Proteas Test squad has arrived safely in Karachi to begin preparation for their historical two-match series against the hosts beginning on 26 January," said the board in a statement.
It said said the touring side underwent COVID-19 testing upon arrival at the team hotel and has been quarantining in their rooms since then. The team will start training as a full squad today.