The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced changes to the national team’s lineup for the upcoming Sydney Test against Australia.
Batsman Imam-ul-Haq and pace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi have been excluded from the 11-man squad and included Saim Ayub, an emerging talent who is set to make his Test debut, and spinner Sajid Khan will step in for Afridi.
Saim Ayub’s inclusion marks his first foray into Test cricket, adding a fresh dynamic to the Pakistan squad. Up to this point, Ayub’s experience has been limited to eight Twenty20 matches for Pakistan.
The decision to bring him into the Test squad reflects the team’s strategy to introduce new talent in high-stakes matches. The third Test match is scheduled at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) from January 3 to 7, presenting a pivotal opportunity for Ayub to showcase his skills on an international stage.
Spinner Sajid Khan’s inclusion over Shaheen Shah Afridi is a tactical decision to strengthen Pakistan’s spin-bowling department. This change is based on the expected pitch conditions at the SCG, which are likely to favour slower bowlers. Shaheen Shah Afridi, having bowled 99.2 overs in the series—the most by any player in both teams—is being rested.
The finalized Pakistan playing XI, led by captain Shan Masood, includes Saim Ayub (debut), Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Salman Ali Agha, Sajid Khan, Hassan Ali, Mir Hamza, and Aamir Jamal.