Pakistan have recalled Faheem Ashraf and Bilal Asif into their squad for the first Test against Bangladesh scheduled to commence on February 7.
Seam-bowling all-rounder Faheem last turned out for Pakistan in a Test match during his side's ill-fated tour of South Africa in 2019. He has taken 11 wickets at 26.09 and averages 23 with the bat across four red-ball games for Pakistan.
Meanwhile, off-spinner Bilal made his Test debut against Australia in October 2018, managing to take a six-wicket haul in his first match. He could play only four more Tests after an impressive performance on debut but has now made a comeback to the national side following a stellar run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy where was the second-leading wicket-taker in the competition.
The two players have been drafted in the side at the expense of Usman Shinwari and Kashif Bhatti, both of whom were part of the Pakistan squad for the Sri Lanka series at home.
Shinwari scalped a solitary wicket on debut against Sri Lanka in December, his only Test appearance for Pakistan so far whereas Bhatti is yet to don national colours.
“Kashif Bhatti has paved the way for Bilal Asif considering there are left-handed batters in the Bangladesh top and middle-order, while Faheem Ashraf has been preferred over Usman Shinwari due to his all-round abilities," chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said as he announced the squad.
“We have followed the horses for courses policy for the Test against Bangladesh. I know the two players who have been left out will be disappointed, but they remain firmly within our plans for the red-ball cricket we are scheduled to play later this year," he added.
Both games against Bangladesh form a part of the World Test Championship with Pakistan having registered their first points on the table following their series win over Sri Lanka.
“We are aiming to collect maximum points from the two upcoming ICC World Test Championship matches against Bangladesh so that when we take the field for the Lord’s Test against England on 30 July, we are in strong contention for a top-two finish by the end of the 2020-21 season. This is what our aspiration is and that’s what are aiming and striving for," Misbah said.
Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah