Pakistan have recalled allrounder Faheem Ashraf and offspinner Bilal Asif for next week’s ICC World Test Championship match against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi.
Pakistan is at No. 4 in the WTC points table with 80 points after it won 1-0 at home against Sri Lanka in December when it hosted its first test series in over 10 years.
“The test team is in good shape after winning the last test against Sri Lanka,” head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said on Saturday. “Now we have different opponent, but still we haven’t made lot of changes.”
Pakistan’s top four batsmen -- captain Shan Masood, Abid Ali, captain Azhar Ali and Babar Azam -- all scored centuries against Sri Lanka in the second test at Karachi to clinch an emphatic 263-run victory after rain affected the first drawn Test at Rawalpindi.
The 34-year-old Asif, who played his last test match in 2018, came back after taking 43 wickets in 9 matches in this season’s premier domestic first-class tournament -- Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He has replaced left-arm spinner Kashif Bhatti, who didn’t feature in the two-test series against Sri Lanka.
Ashraf took six wickets in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final and gives Pakistan an extra option of a bowling allrounder. He has replaced fast bowler Usman Shinwari, who made his test debut against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi.
Bangladesh was originally scheduled to play three Twenty20s and two WTC matches but split its tour to Pakistan in three phases due to security concerns.
Pakistan won the Twenty20 series 3-0 at Lahore last month and now Bangladesh will play its first of the two test matches at Rawalpindi from Feb. 7-11. The second test is scheduled for Karachi after almost a two month’s break when Bangladesh plays a one-off ODI and test match in between Apr. 3-7.
The long gaps between the test matches doesn’t sit well with Misbah, who believed it makes things difficult for the players.
“It’s very difficult not only for me, but for the players too,” the coach said. “If a player has scored a century in his last test and then plays after a long of gap, it’s too difficult for him to adjust quickly.
“When you play back-to-back Test series it gives you rhythm, it’s very tricky situation for the team when you play after a gap of 2-3 months.”
Pakistan could take its points tally to 200 if it wins both test matches against Bangladesh. India is at the top of the table with 360 points, followed by Australia (296) and England (146).
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.