Yasir, who has been spearheading Pakistan’s spin-attack in Tests since his debut in October 2014, passed the most recent fitness test conducted Saturday, the day of the side’s announcement.
He had failed two fitness tests during Pakistan’s camp for the Test series that begun on September 18.
Pakistan squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c/wk), Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Bilal Asif, M Asghar, M Amir, Wahab Riaz, M Abbas, Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza
The 31-year-old was told in no uncertain terms by the team management that he would have to pass the final fitness test to be in the side. “We were very clear with Yasir that he would have to clear the test to be in the side,” Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq revealed after he announced the squad at the PCB headquarters.
“He has scored 17.5 in the yoyo test [Pakistan’s benchmark in 17.4]. Yasir has been one of the most successful bowlers for us. But we will not compromise on the standards we have set.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board was originally scheduled to announce the Test team on September 22, according to reports, but the board delayed it to accommodate Yasir.
Pakistan have included five pacers along with three spinners, a move they hope will help them tackle Sri Lankan batting lineup.
“The conditions in the UAE are tough for the bowlers and the wickets assist batsmen. We have increased the strength of our bowling department so we can dismiss Sri Lanka twice in a match. Having depth in the bowling department will help us to rotate our bowlers as well."
This is Pakistan’s first Test series after the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. With two of their most reliable batsmen not available to them anymore, maintaining an extraordinary win/loss ratio of 2.5 seems to be a daunting task. However, Inzamam is hopeful that the younger batsmen will rise to the occasion.
“We have been nurturing Usman Salahuddin and Haris Sohail [for this moment] by keeping them in our Test squads. Playing them in a home series to give them confidence."
Pakistan host Sri Lanka in Two tests at Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The last Test will be a day/night affair, which will be Pakistan’s third and Sri Lanka’s first pink-ball match.
The two teams then play a five-match ODI series followed by a three-match T20I series, with the last T20I to be played at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore.