Pakistan recalls veteran Hafeez ahead of Australia Tests

Pakistan has added another spin-bowling option to its Test squad to face Australia, drafting in veteran Mohammad Hafeez ahead of Sunday’s series opener.
Pakistan recalls veteran Hafeez ahead of Australia Tests
Mohammad Hafeez


Hafeez was not among the 17 names Pakistan initially selected in its squad for the two-Test series in the UAE, but Pakistan confirmed the off-spinning all-rounder would be on the first available flight to Dubai on Monday after a late call-up.
The 37-year-old hasn’t played a Test in more than two years and has only recently been cleared to return to bowling after being reported for a suspect action, but his recall comes right as he’s found some sizzling form at domestic level.
He struck 213 for his first-class team last week while he also collected a six-wicket haul earlier this month, giving him 280 runs at 93 and 12 wickets at 15 in three four-day matches for Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited.
Hafeez returned to Pakistan’s T20 squad in July to face Australia in Zimbabwe having been cleared by the International Cricket Council to resume bowling in May. It was the third time in his career he’s been cited for throwing.
His selection sees him join leg-spinners Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan as well as fellow right-arm off-spinner Bilal Asif in Pakistan’s extended squad.
The inclusion of the uncapped Asif was likely a recognition of Australia’s batting line-up that is full of left-handers; if Travis Head earns a spot for the first Test as expected, the visitor could field as many as four lefties in its top six.
Hafeez could have the edge over Asif given his superior batting ability, averaging a tick under 40 from his 50 Tests.
Australia has been in Dubai for over a week, gearing up for a spin onslaught during brutal training sessions at the ICC Academy, though the lack of a frontline spinner for its tour match against Pakistan A has disrupted those preparations somewhat.
Opener Aaron Finch, who also looks set for a Test debut against Pakistan, expects a dry, turning surface for the series-opener given the Dubai International Cricket Stadium hosted eight games in less than two weeks for the recently-concluded Asia Cup.

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