Pakistan v England 2015-16 October 16, 2015

Yasir 'fit again' but Pakistan ponder cover


Bilal Asif claimed a five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe but had his action reported © Associated Press

Yasir Shah is expected to be fit for the second Test against England in Dubai after recovering from the back spasm which ruled him out of the opening contest. However, team manager Intikhab Alam hinted there could be a surprise addition to the squad after Pakistan's attempts to call up Zafar Gohar for this match were thwarted by visa issues.

Responding to criticism from Pakistan's captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, over the lack of spin cover in the initial 16-man squad, Alam told ESPNcricinfo. "We don't want to reveal anything at the moment but we have some plans."

That could throw an intriguing couple of names into the frame. A long shot would be Saeed Ajmal, who tormented England here in 2012, but has had to remodel his action and was not effective for Worcestershire in the County Championship this year, while another option may be offspinner Bilal Asif even though his action is under scrutiny after the one-day series in Zimbabwe.

Bilal was reported after taking 5 for 25 in Harare, but the reporting and assessment process laid down by the ICC allows him to continuing bowling until the results of the tests are known. The testing has to take place within 14 days of the report and he is due to travel via Dubai to Chennai, one of the ICC's approved testing centres, on October 18 and be tested the following day. He would be available for selection until the results come through, a process that takes a further 14 days and means, in theory, he would at least be available for the Dubai Test starting on October 22.

Ajmal, meanwhile, who on Friday was traveling from Faisalabad to Lahore, told ESPNcricinfo he was not expecting to be called-up. "Of course everyone might be thinking about me right now but I can confirm that they haven't asked about my passport," Ajmal said. "But I am sure in the present scenario they are definitely thinking about me."

At the toss Misbah expressed his frustration at the lack of an extra spinner in the squad, thoughts echoed by the head coach Waqar Younis when he spoke to TV on Friday. Pakistan's plan was to play two fast bowlers and at least two specialist spinners but they were forced to bring in Imran Khan as part of a three-man seam attack after Yasir and Gohar didn't make it.

Over the last two days Yasir has been seen jogging around the ground during intervals and having a bowl in the nets. "He is fit and will be match fit by the second Test," Alam said. "We no more require Zafar as he was only named replacement for the first Test but he didn't make it, so we have plenty of time ahead of the next game to decide."

With Yasir set to be available it would appear unlikely that Pakistan would alter their first-choice spin pairing even though Zulfiqar Babar, by lunch on the fourth day, had bowled 48 wicketless overs. The first Test was still awaiting its first wicket for a spinner.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on October 19, 2015, 6:30 GMT

    The only surprise is probably going to be inclusion of a new spinner in place of Babar. I think criticism of Asad is not entirely justified. He is a very good test batsman. His one day batting performance can't be used to criticize his test batting. Similarly Misbah did ask PCB to include another spinner in the squad before start of the series, however PCB ignored him and failed to include one in the team.

  •   Cricinfouser on October 19, 2015, 5:57 GMT

    Is the surprise package Mohammad Aamir or Saeed Ajmal I wish and hope it's one of them! INSHALLAH!

  • Ning-nong on October 19, 2015, 2:10 GMT

    If a surprise element is required, then it should be 7ft Irfan, but shame about his fitness in the longer format - for me he is special, even in short bursts, if Pakistan could have him to open the bowling and then Wahab coming second change, England would have no respite! My Pakistan team selection is as follows: 1)Azhar Ali (hope he is fit, can also bowl a bit), 2)Ahmed Shehzad (or Hafeez), 3)Younis Khan, 4)Misbah-ul-Haq, 5)Asad Shafiq, 6)Shoaib Malik (doubles as offspinner), 7)Sarfraz Ahmed, 8)Wahab Riaz (express), 9)Yasir Shah (leg spin ace), 10)Rahat Ali (nagging line), 11)Mohammed Irfan (fast with height)

  • abdul on October 18, 2015, 13:38 GMT

    KURRAM S CHAUDHRY Thanks fr clarifying. highly appreciated bro.

  • Don on October 18, 2015, 7:41 GMT

    Abu Dhabi is the ground mostly used by UAE team and ICC, to conduct the qualifying matches, PCB and team PAK and not allowed to change the pitch conditions especially in this ground by Emirates Cricket Board and that is why this pitch generally support the batsmen, there were no Cracks on it at all, neither there were any foot marks, so in these circumstances it is very difficult for the spinners to get any sort of help from the wicket

  • arshad on October 17, 2015, 20:54 GMT

    Let me first say that England are more balanced team than Pakistan and they are doing their home work, especially after inclusion of Mahela in the coaching staff. On contrary Pakistan have done a poor team selection with inclusion of Zulfiqar babar, asad shafiq and Fawad Alam and no off spinner in team. My team for next test Fast Bowlers: Wahab riaz, Imran Khan and Muhammad Aamir Spinners:Yasir Shah, Imad Waseem, Shoib Malik Batters: Misbah, Younus, azhar, hafeez, sarfraz

  • sarim on October 17, 2015, 19:03 GMT

    Waqar is biased against spinners so he will keep playing Rahat Ali and Imran Khan

  • Tanveer on October 17, 2015, 17:24 GMT

    ajmal should be there. Give hime chance.

  •   Khurram S Chaudhry on October 17, 2015, 15:54 GMT

    A.Wahab89: i am not sure but this is bilateral series. that restriction was for ICC events where you have to give squad names few weeks ago. they can add here and they will do that whoever it will be.

  • abdul on October 17, 2015, 11:08 GMT

    amir and imad wasim. but i wonder how can pak include another member into team if someone is not injured. currently no one is injured. plz explain??

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