Karachi: Pakistan on Saturday announced a young squad for its Test series against Australia, excluding key senior players. Dashing opener Shahid Afridi, who hit the second fastest half-century in One-day Internationals against the Netherlands in Sri Lanka on Saturday, failed to find a place in the team.
Ace paceman Wasim Akram and opener Saeed Anwar have opted out of the series while vice-captain and dependable batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana had to pull out due to injuries. But opener Imran Farhat stages a comeback after playing two Tests in New Zealand last year. Hasan Raza, who became the youngest ever to play a Test in 1996-97, is recalled after hitting a century against Sri Lanka this week. "This is the start of a rebuilding process of the Pakistan team and we were forced to start this slightly earlier as we are missing some senior players," chief selector Waseem Bari said. "Wasim and Anwar's decisions are personal and we can't help it and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) gave us a list of players not available for the series," said Bari. "It (the squad) is a good bunch of talented cricketers and we hope it will put up a better show." The inclusion of paceman Mohammad Zahid is subject to fitness. He will have a try-out in an unofficial Test against Sri Lanka starting in Multan on Monday. Pakistan lost three of its four matches in the Morocco Cup against South Africa and Sri Lanka in August. It then crashed to humiliating defeats at the hands of the Aussies in the tri-series One-day tournament in Kenya this month. It also lost its opening game against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy last week. Pakistan meets Australia in the first of three Tests in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo from October 3. The remaining two Tests will be played in Sharjah from October 11 to 15 and from October 19 to 23. Pakistan's home series to commemorate its Golden Jubilee in Test cricket was shifted to offshore venues after Australia refused to tour because of security fears. Pakistan: Waqar Younis (captain), Younis Khan (vice-captain), Shoaib Akhtar, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Misbahul Haq, Faisal Iqbal, Abdul Razzaq, Rashid Latif, Saqlain Mushtaq, Danish Kaneria, Rana Naveedul Hasan, Hasan Raza, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Zahid and Taufiq Umer.