Pakistan Saturday recalled allrounder Faheem Ashraf and off-spinner Bilal Asif for the first Test against Bangladesh starting in Rawalpindi next week. Ashraf, 26, showed a lot of promise in his debut Test against Ireland in 2018 when he scored 83 but then faced injury problems and was discarded after the South Africa tour in January last year.
Bilal, 34, played the last of his five Tests against New Zealand in December 2018 and was not selected last year. Senior batsman Azhar Ali will lead the team. Head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said Ashraf did well in the domestic tournament final two months ago.
"We have this option of playing a pace bowling allrounder against Bangladesh and Ashraf took five wickets in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy final so we have selected him," said Misbah. The first Test starts in Rawalpindi from February 7.
Bangladesh had agreed to tour Pakistan in three phases and after playing three Twenty20 internationals returned home earlier this week. They will play the first Test and then return again for the sole one-day international (April 3) and second Test (April 7-11) -- both in Karachi. Misbah said Pakistan would have to play at their best despite beating Bangladesh 2-0 in the three-match Twenty20 series, with one match rained off. "There is no guarantee that if a team doesn`t do well in one format then it will not do better in the other format as well," said Misbah. "They are a gritty team and will be under no pressure."
Both the Tests are part of the ongoing World Test championship contested by the top nine teams. India currently lead the championship with 360 points followed by Australia (296), England (146) and Pakistan (80). The top two teams in the table will play the June 2021 final in England.
Squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Bilal Asif, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.