PCB Unveils Test Squad for Australia Tour, Shan Masood to Lead in Inaugural Test Captaincy

PCB Unveils Test Squad for Australia Tour, Shan Masood to Lead in Inaugural Test Captaincy

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed the 18-member Test squad that will be representing the country on the upcoming tour to Australia. The announcement was made on Monday by Chief Selector Wahab Riaz, marking his first assignment since assuming control of the national men’s selection committee last week.

Shan Masood, the left-handed opening batter, will be at the helm of the team, leading in his inaugural assignment as Test captain. This decision comes after Masood took over the captaincy from Babar Azam for the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle.

The squad comprises several exciting additions, with the inclusion of left-handed opening batter Saim Ayub, who earned his maiden call-up to the Test team. Ayub’s selection follows an outstanding performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, where he scored an impressive 553 runs in four matches for Karachi Whites, including three centuries, one of which was a match-winning double century in the tournament final against Faisalabad. His stellar form continued in the Pakistan Cup, where he emerged as the best batter and the highest run-getter.

Another promising addition to the squad is right-arm fast bowler Khurram Shahzad, who secures his maiden Test call-up after an excellent domestic season. Shahzad topped the wicket-taking charts in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24, claiming 36 wickets in eight matches at an average of 20.31. Additionally, he performed impressively in the recently concluded Pakistan Cup, where he picked up 13 wickets at an average of 16.62.

Pace bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf makes a return to the Test squad after his last appearance during England’s tour of Pakistan in late 2022. The squad also sees the comeback of left-arm pacer Mir Hamza and right-arm pacer Mohammad Wasim Jnr, both of whom were part of Pakistan’s squad during New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan from December 2022 to January 2023.

The full squad for the Australia Tests includes: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Chief Selector Wahab Riaz expressed his thoughts on the selected squad, stating, “The squad has been assembled keeping in mind the challenging Australian conditions. We have kept the pitches in mind and added more pace bowling resources to the team to ensure that the management can be flexible with the team combinations in all three Test matches.”

Riaz further highlighted the inclusion of Saim Ayub, acknowledging his exceptional domestic season and stating that Ayub’s batting prowess will strengthen the team’s solid lineup. Riaz also emphasized Pakistan’s successful start in the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25, expressing hope that the momentum would continue in Australia.

The selected squad is set to gather in Rawalpindi on November 22 for a training camp at Pindi Cricket Stadium, running from November 23 to 28, before departing for Australia on November 30. In addition to the main squad, several additional players have been invited to participate in the training camp: Arshad Iqbal, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usama Mir, and Usman Qadir. The tour to Australia comprises three Test matches scheduled from December 14, 2023, to January 7, 2024.