Lahore: Pakistan dropped former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed from the country's T20I and Test squads for their upcoming Australian tour on Monday, while experienced players Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez were also given the axe in the shorter format.
Sarfraz, 32, was stripped last week of his T20I and Test captaincy, just days after Pakistan were routed 3-0 by Sri Lanka at home in the short format. His place in both squads was taken by 27-year-old Mohammad Rizwan, whose only Test was in New Zealand in 2016.
Babar Azam was named T20I captain while Azhar Ali will lead the team in Tests.
"There's no conspiracy against Sarfaraz," Misbah said. "His comeback is pretty much straightforward and my message to him is 'just perform in domestic cricket and regain your form.'"
The exit from T20Is means curtains for Shoaib Malik who had already announced retirement from Tests and ODIs.
Hafeez was part of Pakistan's T20I squad in South Africa earlier this year but was not played. At 39, he has little hope of competing in international cricket again. Pakistan will play three T20Is in Sydney (3 November), Canberra (5 November) and Perth (8 November).
The two Tests will be in Brisbane (21 to 25 November) and Adelaide (29 November to 3 December).
Head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said Pakistan need to do well in Australia following a disappointing summer.
"We need to play aggressive cricket to achieve better results there," said Misbah. "We have some exciting youngsters in the pace squad who could be surprise packages."
The Test pace attack — hampered by the untimely retirement of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz earlier this year — includes 16-year-old Nasim Shah and 19-year-old Musa Khan who have played just five and seven first-class matches respectively.
Both fast bowlers have impressed chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq with their pace as they team up with Shaheen Afridi and the experienced Mohammad Abbas to lead the pace attack.
"You have to have a surprise package if you want to compete against Australia in Australia and these two fast bowlers (Musa and Naseem) have a very good attitude toward fast bowling," Misbah said on Monday.
Imran Khan, 32, returns to the Test squad after playing his last Test during the Australian tour in 2017. Prolific leg-spinner Yasir Shah will be assisted by 33-year-old left-arm spinner Kashif Bhatti in Tests.
There were new faces in Pakistan's 16-member T20I squad, too, with the likes of power hitter Khushdil Shah and Perth Scorchers leg-spinner Usman Qadir, the son of late Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir.
"Khushdil Shah has been added as he is in-form and has displayed his power-hitting abilities, while Usman brings to the table his experience of playing in Australia. Usman also provides cover for Shadab Khan, who is on track for reclaiming his match form," Misbah said.
The lanky 37-year-old Mohammad Irfan, who played the last of his 20 T20 internationals in the T20 World Cup in India three years ago, is also part of the shorter format.
T20I: Babar Azam (captain), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khusdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Musa Khan, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir
Test: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan senior, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashid Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Nusa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah
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Stating that Azam is a bit more of a tricky customer than Kohli, Amir added that technique wise he finds it tougher against Babar Azam as his stance is such that one cannot just figure out how to get him out.
South Africa, New Zealand, England and West Indies are scheduled to visit Pakistan in what will be a very busy 2021 for the PCB.
Gayle and Plunkett's withdrawals were confirmed by their franchise Kandy Tuskers, Malinga pulled out citing "inadequate preparation time", said a report