Pakistan have added allrounder Mohammad Hafeez to their squad for the two-Test series against Australia in the UAE. Hafeez will fly to Dubai on the first available flight, ahead of the first Test that begins on October 7.
Hafeez’s inclusion is understood to have been made to bolster an inexperienced Pakistan top order that features Imam-ul-Haq, who has played three Tests, and Fakhar Zaman, who is uncapped, alongside regular Test opener Azhar Ali.
The move comes at a time when Hafeez’s international career appeared to be winding down after months of being overlooked. Hafeez played the last of his 50 Tests in August 2016 and had since fallen out of favour with the selectors, who most recently ignored him for the Asia Cup that concluded last week. He last played for Pakistan in July this year, in a T20I against Australia, but was never a consistent fixture in the side, being named in Pakistan’s ODI squad for a bilateral series against Zimbabwe but not featuring in any of the matches. In a further indictment of how far he had fallen, Hafeez was demoted to category B in the PCB’s list of centrally contracted players that was announced in August.
Hafeez has been outspoken about his non-selection in recent months, going so far as to nearly call for a press conference against the selection committee. However, he decided against that at the last minute and called his being dropped unfortunate, while making a brief statement about always being available for Pakistan. He has also been critical of Mickey Arthur, the head coach, who reportedly did not view Hafeez as part of his plans.
All of that meant Hafeez was left to play domestic cricket, where he had an excellent run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first-class tournament. Hafeez opened his tournament with a six-wicket haul that consigned Federally Administered Tribal Areas to an innings defeat. He also slammed 280 runs in three matches, including a double-century against Peshawar.
Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Hafeez (ESPNCricinfo)