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December 26, 2013
Pakistan have picked fast bowler Mohammad Talha for the Tests against Sri Lanka more than four years after he played his only match, in March 2009. They have also recalled fast bowler Umar Gul, who is fit again, and allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, who who scored three hundreds in the first four ODIs against Sri Lanka in the UAE.
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Talha's debut was in the Lahore Test in 2009, which had to be abandoned after the bus transporting the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists. He was part of the squad for the tour of Bangladesh in 2011-12 but did not play, and an injury ruled him out of that season's series against England in the UAE. He recently took 11 wickets for Port Qasim Authority in the President's Trophy.
Talha was 20 when he made his debut and since then Pakistan have introduced as many as nine fast bowlers, making it hard to find a place in the squad. He has taken 143 first-class wickets since 2010, and 33 in the ongoing season. "It has been a tough time since I played my only Test," Talha had told ESPNcricinfo before the start of the 2013-14 season. "Injuries have been a concern for while but I always tried to keep myself in the best shape amid tough competition and waited for the opportunity."
"Competition has always been there and I did manage to win a place in 2009 and was selected after that too. But lack of opportunity and some random injuries hindered my growth. No international cricket in Pakistan was also a blow to my career. I always felt empty since that incomplete Test match [in Lahore] …"
Gul's last Test for Pakistan was in South Africa in February this year, after which he was sidelined by injury until his recall to the ODI squad ahead of the third match of the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.
Hafeez had been dropped for the Tests against South Africa in the UAE because he had scored 102 runs in 10 innings this year, struggling primarily against Dale Steyn. His return to this squad was largely due to his match-winning performances with the bat in the ODIs against Sri Lanka.
Babar, 35, had injured his hand during the second Test against South Africa in the UAE. He needed stitches, but completed his three-week rehabilitation and returned to domestic cricket. Babar was picked for the only T20 against Afghanistan in Sharjah but was overlooked for the Tests against Sri Lanka because the selectors preferred Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, and Hafeez's return provided an additional spin option. Babar had played only one first-class game this season, taking three wickets for Water and Power Development Authority against Habib Bank Limited.
Test squad: Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Adnan Akmal, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Rahat ali, Mohammad Talha.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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