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Kamran Ghulam called up to Pakistan Test squad for Bangladesh tour

Imam-ul-Haq and Bilal Asif recalled; Imran Butt, Shahnawaz Dahani and Haris Rauf left out; Yasir Shah out injured

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Kamran Ghulam surpassed the record for the most runs in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season  •  PCB

Kamran Ghulam surpassed the record for the most runs in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season  •  PCB

Kamran Ghulam, who scored a record 1249 runs in the 2020-21 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, has been rewarded with a maiden call-up to Pakistan's Test squad. The 26-year-old middle-order batter, who is currently on tour with the Pakistan Shaheens squad in Sri Lanka, could make his debut during Pakistan's upcoming two-Test series in Bangladesh, which begins in Chittagong on November 26.
The selectors, meanwhile, have recalled the opener Imam-ul-Haq and the offspinner Bilal Asif, while leaving out Imran Butt, Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani, who were all part of the 21-member squad that toured the West Indies for Pakistan's last Test assignment in August. The legspinner Yasir Shah has not been picked since he is recovering from a thumb injury sustained during the National T20 Cup in October.
Ghulam, who hails from Upper Dir in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, surpassed the record of Saadat Ali, who scored 1217 runs during the 1983-84 season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He was picked among the players who were part of a training camp ahead of the home Test series against South Africa earlier this year, but wasn't considered for the final squad of 15, and also ignored for the tours of Zimbabwe and West Indies. But he was kept close to the senior set-up and selected in the Shaheens squad, and he impressed with scores of 58* and 45 in the unofficial Tests against Sri Lanka A.
Asif has been brought back to fill in for the injured Yasir. Imam, meanwhile, has been in rich form during the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring 162.66 in five innings at an average of 162.66, with two hundreds including a double-ton. He was part of Pakistan's Test squad until late last year, when he was ruled out of the tour of New Zealand with a thumb injury. Since then he had been overlooked for selection, with Imran Butt given opportunities to establish himself as opener.
Butt played six straight Test matches, but his poor returns put his place under pressure. He made 91 against Zimbabwe in Harare, but he has crossed 15 only once in his nine other Test innings, and he currently averages 17.80. Ex-head coach Misbah ul Haq persisted with him, making a case that players need a longer run to overcome insecurity about their place and begin to express themselves, but following the change in the coaching set-up, Butt has fallen out of favour, despite having scored two hundreds and a 95 in the ongoing first-class season. He holds an emerging-category contract with the PCB, however, and was the leading run-getter in the 2019-20 season.
With Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz now out of the picture in red-ball cricket, Pakistan have looked to build a young fast-bowling attack around Shaheen Shah Afridi, bringing Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa into the squad and later adding Rauf and Dahani to the larger group. But with Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali and the allrounder Faheem Ashraf all returning after recovering from injury, the management has begun to streamline the pace unit. While Naseem remains in the squad, the selectors have let go of Rauf and Dahani, who will return to Pakistan after the T20I leg of the Bangladesh tour and play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Pakistan have plenty of options in the spin department, with offspinner Sajid Khan, left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, legspinner Zahid Mahmood and bowling allrounder Mohammad Nawaz all in the 20-member squad alongside Asif.
"We have selected the squad following discussions with the team management and after taking into consideration the opposition's potential make-up and the conditions in which the Tests will be played," Mohammad Wasim, the chief selector, said in a statement. "As we already have four frontline fast bowlers, we have allowed Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani to return to Pakistan after the T20Is so that they can play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and prepare for Australia Tests.
"An in-form left-hander Imam-ul-Haq has replaced Imran Butt, who managed to score at 17.8 in 10 Test innings, but he has a chance to continue to play and perform in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he can force his way back in the side. Bangladesh are strong side in their backyard but we have the resources, talent and experience to perform strongly and then carry that momentum into the Australia Tests, which will be part of the ICC World Test Championship."
This will be Pakistan's first tour to Bangladesh since 2015 and the two-match series will be the part of the ICC World Test Championship.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent