Karachi: Pakistan ignored experienced opener Mohammad Hafeez for the tour of New Zealand, and have replaced him with young Sharjeel Khan in the Test squad.
Sharjeel, 27, is better known for his power hitting in 20 ODIs and 15 T20 internationals, and this is his first selection in a Test series. Besides left-handed Sharjeel, Pakistan selectors have also included wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan in the squad.
"The Test team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions in New Zealand and the performances of players in the recent Test series against England and West Indies. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth, and the selectors have stuck to the same combination selected against England and West Indies earlier. We believe that the team will do well on the tour," said chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq in a statement.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) made it clear that the 16-member squad is only for the Tests in New Zealand, and will announce a touring squad for the tour of Australia later.
Sources have said that the selectors decided to ignore Hafeez after he failed a bowling test at the PCB's biomechanic lab in Lahore. "Basically the selectors wanted to see if Hafeez could clear the preliminary bowling assessment test in Lahore, after
which the PCB would have sent him for an ICC bowling assessment test in England," a source said.
Hafeez has played 50 Tests and 177 ODIs. He was dropped for the fourth and final Test in England because of poor form, after which he sustained a knee injury during the first ODI in England and had to return home for treatment. The 36-year-old has not been able to bowl since mid-2015 after the ICC declared his bowling action illegal.
The first Test match between Pakistan and New Zealand will start on 17 November at Hagley Oval, Christchurch, followed by a Test from 25 November Seddon Park, Hamilton.
Veteran spinner Zulfiqar Babar is the only player to have been dropped from the squad that is presently playing against West Indies in Sharjah.
Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Sami, Azhar Ali, Sharjeel Khan, Younis Khan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Aamir, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan Senior, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali