Imam-ul-Haq, Faheem Ashraf, Usman Salahuddin, Fakhar Zaman and Saad Ali are all keen to prove themselves in red-ball cricket.
Pakistan named a relatively inexperienced side for their Test tours of England and Ireland. There were five uncapped players in the squad of 15, with eight others who had played only 20 Tests or fewer.
Two of the five, Imam-ul-Haq and Faheem Ashraf, earned their Test caps in the historic Test against Ireland in Malahide.
The team did well to deny Ireland a win in their maiden Test match. But with the team now set to take on England in two Tests starting 24 May at Lord’s, the challenge only gets tougher for the young brigade. Here’s a closer look at what they have to offer.
The bespectacled nephew of former captain and current selector Inzamam-ul-Haq has put to rest any questions about his selection, showing a maturity beyond his years.
The left-hand opener has struck a half-century in all three matches he’s played on tour so far.
Having made a century on one-day international debut against Sri Lanka in October last year, he couldn’t repeat the feat on Test debut against Ireland – but he did strike the winning runs. And 74* when his team was precarious at 14/3 chasing 160 is not a bad way to start a Test career at all.
Imam took to the sport after watching his uncle and brother play. He started out dabbling in leg-spin as well, but soon focused only on his batting. He rose up the system, featuring in two ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cups, and was the second-highest scorer in the 2014 edition with 382 runs from six matches as his team finished runners-up.
Faheem Ashraf, 24
Coming in at No.8 on Test debut against Ireland, Ashraf’s brisk 83 off 115 balls in the first innings wrested the initiative from the home side after they had Pakistan at 159/6 at one stage. He later chipped in with an economical 1/18 in five overs in the first Ireland innings, and 0-51 in 18 in the second.
And that is exactly what Ashraf, a seam-bowling, big-hitting all-rounder, offers.
His first-class average with his right-arm medium pace is a more than respectable 26.91. He became the first Pakistani player to take a Twenty20 International hat-trick too, finishing with 3/16 against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi last October.
But it is with the bat that the Faisalabad youngster has caused great excitement. He is a fearless cricketer, whose natural game is to come out and biff a few.
Since his international debut in the ICC Champions Trophy last year, the left-hand batsman has struck at a rate of 126.31 in T20Is and 88.63 in ODIs. In fact, in the warm-up game that tournament, he smashed 60 in 34 balls from No.9.
Fakhar Zaman, 28
Zaman chose the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 to burst onto the international stage. His inclusion in the squad completely turned around Pakistan’s fortunes, giving them a much-needed spark at the top. He followed up fifties against Sri Lanka and England with a big 106-ball 114 in the final against India, doing more than his bit to decide the trophy in Pakistan’s favour.
Since then, the left-hander has become an important part of their limited-overs squads. A fan of Adam Gilchrist and AB de Villiers, he is an aggressive batsman.
He struck a half-century in his only red-ball outing on the tour of England so far, the two-day tour game against Leicestershire, and chipped in for a wicket with his left-arm spin.
Born in Mardan, the hometown of the legendary Younis Khan, Zaman began taking cricket seriously once he joined the Navy at 16. He eventually stopped being a sailor and moved full time into cricket, moving up the ranks in domestic cricket in Karachi.
He was nearly 27, though, when he made his international debut. Strong performances for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League T20 saw his inclusion for the Windies T20Is in March 2017.
Usman Salahuddin, 27
This is Salahuddin’s second chance. The middle-order batsman made his international debut in an ODI against Windies in Bridgetown back in 2011 as a 20-year-old, but didn’t make an impact and never got the chance to add to his two games.
He comes into this series with high expectations and a first-class average of 46.53 from 99 matches. In the tour game against Leicestershire, he made a steady 69*.
The son of a first-class cricketer, the Lahore boy took to the game early. His performances on Under 19 tours earned him a call up to the national side, but Salahuddin himself admits now that despite his superlative form back then, he wasn’t ready for the big leagues.
He bided his time on the domestic circuit, piling on the runs to rebuild his confidence and teaching himself to deal with the added pressure of being an international cricketer. It seems to have paid off: consistency and an ability to soak in pressure have been his strength in the last few years.
Saad Ali, 24
Among all the newbies, Ali is the least experienced. In the game against Leicestershire, his first outing for the tour, he made just 2 in a 16-ball stay, and chipped in with one wicket with his medium pace.
The middle-order batsman is yet to make his international debut in any format, but comes to the series as the highest scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2018, Pakistan’s domestic first-class competition, with 957 runs in 10 matches at an average of 68.35.
As a young boy in Karachi, Ali was encouraged to pursue cricket by his father. He was part of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2012, along with Babar Azam, Imam and Sami Aslam. His career graph rose from there and he has developed a tenacity to play even on tricky surfaces against good bowling attacks.
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