KARACHI: Off-spinner Bilal Asif has joined the Pakistan Test squad in Dubai as the 17th member after concluding his bowling test at the International Cricket Council accredited lab in Chennai.
Bilal, who was reported for a suspect action during the series with Zimbabwe, underwent his test on Monday and then took a direct flight to the UAE to join the squad in hopes of improving Pakistan’s spin options.
Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said the induction of Bilal was part of their plans of adding to their spin options, which is why he was called.
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“This is our home series so we can afford to add an extra player as a backup option which is why Bilal was asked to join the team,” Rasheed told The Express Tribune.
“But I don’t think he will directly play in the next match as we can’t write off Zulfiqar Babar after just one poor outing. One must not forget that we were missing our current ace spinner Yasir Shah and that certainly dampened our bowling attack. When both Yasir and Babar bowl in tandem, they can be a big threat.”
Rasheed added that all-rounder Shoaib Malik bowled well and filled in the void for an off-spinner against a heavily left-handed batting side of England in the first Test.
Azhar Ali returns home
Pakistan’s key batsman Azhar Ali will return home following the death of his mother-in-law and is unlikely to play in the second Test against England starting in Dubai on Thursday.
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The 30-year-old did not play in the first Test, which ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, due to a foot infection.
Team manager Intikhab Alam said Ali would return home and it was not clear if he would be able to rejoin the squad before the Test.
“It’s sad that Azhar Ali has to return home following the death of his mother-in-law and his return before the second Test will depend on his visa for the UAE,” said Alam.
Azhar had recovered well from his foot infection and trained on Friday and Saturday.
Pakistan will have the services of leg-spinner Yasir Shah who regained full fitness after missing the first Test due to back spasm.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.
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