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Fresh faces in Pakistan squads in post-Sarfaraz Ahmed overhaul

Muhammad Musa Khan, Khushdil Shah and Usman Qadir are the new faces in the T20I squad

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam are the new captains of the Test and T20I sides respectively  •  Getty Images

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam are the new captains of the Test and T20I sides respectively  •  Getty Images

Not only is Sarfaraz Ahmed absent from the Pakistan Test and T20I squads bound for Australia, in a major shake-up, head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has named a host of new faces in both the touring groups.
Muhammad Musa Khan, the 19-year-old seamer, has been included in both the squads. Khushdil Shah, the 24-year-old middle-order batsman, and Abdul Qadir's son Usman Qadir, the 26-year-old legspinner, were the new faces in the T20I squad, to be captained by Babar Azam, while Azhar Ali's Test side included Kashif Bhatti, the domestic veteran who bowls left-arm spin and is the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this year, and Nasim Shah the 16-year-old fast bowler, who was a surprise pick. He rose to prominence with a six-wicket haul on his Quaid-e-Azam Trophy debut last year, and has fast become something of a regular for Central Punjab.
In Pakistan's post-World Cup shake-up, Sarfaraz had been sacked as captain of the Test and T20I sides and a decision on the ODI captaincy was put on hold, as Pakistan's next 50-over assignment isn't until July next year. Also out of the Test side are Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, who is nursing an injury, Shadab Khan, and Mohammad Amir, who had announced his retirement from the longest format earlier this year.
In T20Is, there was no place for Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, who were selected in controversial circumstances for the series at home against Sri Lanka recently, while Ashraf and Mohammad Nawaz were also left out.
"A series to Australia has always been a challenge for Pakistan, and is very important, too," Misbah said. "Being a player, it was always our wish to go to Australia and perform well, and win games and series there. because Australia, England and South Africa are places where it is incredibly difficult to win, and when you do, the world sits up and takes notice. We want to play competitive, aggressive, fearless cricket there, because this is the only way to beat them at home.
"The team we have selected has been chosen with that in mind, and we have a number of surprise packages in our team that we feel confident will be able to challenge Australia. Be that T20Is or Test cricket, you will see young, exciting players. My message is clear: we want youngsters to get a chance, we believe in them and they are our future. If you go to Australia and want to compete, you have to have firepower in the fast-bowling department. We aren't just going to compete, we are going to win, and we are confident these boys will perform."
There are a number of surprises in the squad, but the call-up of Qadir perhaps tops them all. Just last year, a disillusioned Qadir had declared that he didn't want to play for Pakistan, and wanted to represent Australia instead.
Less than a fortnight ago, Misbah rhetorically asked a packed press conference which legspinners he was ignoring in Pakistan cricket, indicating there was no one coming through, and Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan were the only options. When a journalist mentioned Qadir's name, there was a ripple of laughter, and even Misbah joined in, and pointed out that Qadir hadn't been playing domestic cricket in Pakistan.
In another notable recall, Mohammad Irfan was named in a Pakistan squad for the first time since September 2016, with the previous coach Mickey Arthur deeming him incompatible with the high-performance fitness culture he believed was necessary to make Pakistan a modern-day limited-overs force. The 37-year-old paceman will be the oldest player in a side that's otherwise notable for its youth.
One of the less surprising - but still notable for its significance - changes was the introduction of Mohammad Rizwan to Pakistan's T20I and Test squads as the first-choice wicketkeeper after a long wait on the sidelines. Between the start of 2017 and the start of 2019, Rizwan didn't feature in a single international game but with Sarfaraz now out, the path for Rizwan to come back is clear. He has, however, only ever played a single Test match, which came nearly three years ago in New Zealand.
Imran Khan, meanwhile, is also back in the side for the first time since Pakistan's last tour of Australia in January 2017. Incidentally it was on that tour, under Misbah's captaincy, that then coach Mickey Arthur publicly questioned the fitness of bowlers such as Imran and Sohail Khan - the former was not picked after that series. Three of his nine Tests have come in two separate series against Australia.
Azhar and Babar will captain the Test and T20I squads respectively, with the T20I series a chance for Pakistan to bounce back from the 3-0 home defeat to Sri Lanka and reinforce their claims as one of the favourites for next year's men's T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia. The Test series will be the first assignment for Pakistan in the World Test Championship, and it could not have been a more challenging start; Pakistan have lost each of their last four series in Australia 3-0, representing 12 consecutive Test losses.
The action in Australia begins with the first T20I on November 3 in Sydney, followed by games in Canberra (November 5) and Perth (November 8), before the Test matches take place in Brisbane (November 21-25) and Adelaide (November 29 to December 3).

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000