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Pakistan announce Test squad for England tour; Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah included

Ahmed Shehzad was not selected based on disciplinary grounds in the squad which has two spinners in Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar.

Mohammad Amir Pakistan Cricket
Mohammad Amir will return to England, six years after he was implicated in the spot-fixing scandal  

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a 17-man squad for the upcoming Test series against England, with Mohammad Amir making a return to the Test side after nearly six years while leg-spinner Yasir Shah will make his first appearance for Pakistan after serving a three-month ban for breaching the ICC's anti-doping code. 

Amir will be returning to the country where, as an 18-year-old in 2010, he was found guilty of spot-fixing and subsequently banned for 5 years from playing any sort of competitive cricket. He also served a six months jail sentence at the Feltham Young Offenders Institution in the UK before returning to the domestic circuit in Pakistan in January 2015, nearly nine months ahead of the time when his ban was supposed to end.

The immensely talented left-arm pace bowler has impressed one and all since his return to competitive cricket and has already represented Pakistan in ODI and T20 cricket, most memorably bowling a mesmerising spell against India during the Asia Cup encounter in February 2016. 

There is no question that Amir looks hungry mentally ready for making his return in the longest format of the game but considering his past, obtaining a visa might take some extra effort but is only a formality, according to Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq. 

“Amir is expected to get visa in the next couple of days.” Inzamam said, as reported by NDTV Sports. 

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Yasir Shah, meanwhile, who tested positive for a banned substance called chlorthalidone in December 2015 after an ODI international between Pakistan and England, will also make a comeback and is one of the two spinners selected in the squad. Concerns over the fitness and bowling action of veteran Mohammad Hafeez meant the doors were left open for Zulfiqar Babar as the second spinner.

“(Mohammad) Hafeez is also cleared by medical staff so we have included him," Inzamam told the press conference after announcing the team.

There was no place in the squad however for opener Ahmed Shehzad whose disciplinary issues has cost him dear. Pakistan will have to rely on the inexperienced pair of Shan Masood and Sami Aslam for opening duties, but will have the services of a strong middle order comprising of Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali to bail them out of trouble when needed. 

Along with Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan and Imran Khan forms the pace attack with Sarfraz Ahmed an automatic choice for the wicketkeeper’s slot. The Pakistan squad is expected to leave for the UK on June 18 and hold a training camp in Hampshire after which they will be p;laying two warm-up games – first against Somerset starting on July 5 and another against Sussex from July 8.

Test Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez (subject to fitness), Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan.

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