Pakistan to award Test caps to Umar, Azhar

Karachi: Pakistan has decided to award young batsmen Umar Amin and Azhar Ali with Test caps during their first match against Australia at Lord`s starting on Tuesday.

According to sources close to the tour selection committee in England, captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis have decided to repose faith in the two youngsters instead of giving chances to out-of-form seniors Shoaib Malik and Yasir Hameed.

Yasir was recalled to the Test squad for the series in England after a three year-gap.

“Malik and Yasir have not done well in the side matches and are struggling for form so it was felt it would be better to try out the youngsters chosen for the tour,” one source said.

The induction of Umar Amin and Azhar Ali means the Pakistan middle order would be pretty inexperienced for the first Test as while Amin made his ODI debut last month in the Asia Cup, Azhar is a newcomer in international level.

“Both the young players have been doing well in the side matches and are confident so they have got their chances to show their worth,” the source said.

The selectors, however, decided to repose faith in opener Imran Farhat, who will open the innings with Salman Butt.

“Since it is very important to get a good start in English conditions, it was felt that it would be best to stick with the experienced pair of Butt and Farhat as they also opened against Australia early this year when we toured down under,” the source added.

Captain Shahid Afridi would also be making a return to Test cricket for the first time since mid-2006 when he last played in England under the captaincy of Inzamam-ul-Haq.

In the last four years, Afridi has preferred to play in limited overs cricket rather then Test matches.

Former captain Moin Khan pointed out that Pakistan`s batting would be challenged and tested in the first Test.

“But in the absence of experienced players like Younus Khan and Muhammad Yousuf it is also a great opportunity for the youngsters to show their worth at this level,” he said.

Moin felt that the first Test would be very important for Pakistan as it would decide how they perform on the rest of the tour.

“It is a long summer for Pakistan and they need to get a good start to this tour although the first Test is going to be a tough psychological and physical challenge for them.”

First Test Squad: Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Umar Amin, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi (C), Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Aamer, Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria.



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