Chief Selector Misbah-ul-Haq on Saturday announced the Pakistan squad for the upcoming Test series against Bangladesh.
While most of the squad picked itself, the two surprising inclusions were of Bilal Asif and Faheem Ashraf — the former an ageing off-spinner and the latter an allrounder primarily considered a limited-overs option.
"The reason to induct Bilal Asif is due to the number of left-handers [in the Bangladesh squad]," said Misbah, adding that the offspinner was picked over left-arm spin option Kashif Bhatti.
Misbah said that Ashraf has been picked "as a bowler" who can also bat at number seven, adding that his performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final earned him the nod.
"He (Ashraf) was unfit during the entire Quaid-e-Azam Trophy but played the final and got five wickets. He has contributed with the bat as well recently," explained the selector.
Fawad Alam, who was a part of the home series against Sri Lanka but did not get a game, has been retained.
When asked if Alam or some others who make the squad from time to time but do not get game time will be tried against Bangladesh, Misbah said that that depends on the situation, stressing that he cannot try the entire squad in a series as he can only pick 11 players per match.
Bangladesh were not able to give Pakistan a scare in their 2-0 loss in the recent T20I series. When asked if he expects the Tigers to far better in the longest format, Misbah refused to be dismissive of the opponents, saying that there are no guarantees that a team that failed in one format would struggle in another format as well.
"They will have no pressure as they have nothing to lose, while the series is obviously of more importance to us so we cannot afford to relax," he added.
Misbah, responding to a question, admitted that lengthy breaks and the scattered nature of the cricket calendar where Test series are followed by limited overs cricket keeps his team from building any kind of rhythm.
Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Sr, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Faheem Ashraf