Opposition watch: Sizing up Pakistan’s Test squad for the Australian cricket summer


As Australia celebrates its sixth ICC Cricket World Cup title, the majority of the Australian team’s focus shifts to a three match Test series against Pakistan. The visitors have named their touring party, led by new captain Shan Masood following the resignation of Babar Azam. Here is a detailed analysis of the Pakistan Test squad.

Shan Masood (captain)

Masood has had an underwhelming Test career so far, averaging under 30 after 30 Tests. However, his leadership skills are highly rated, as he has captained Yorkshire in County Cricket. Masood averages over 60 playing County Cricket, highlighting that the Pakistan skipper scores runs consistently on wickets with true bounce compared to the lower bouncing wickets in Pakistan and UAE. Masood impressed in Pakistan’s Test tour of Australia in 2019, averaging over 28 overs spent per innings which is impressive when opening the batting as an overseas player taking on Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. However, Masood will likely bat at first drop this time and as captain, he has to convert his starts into big hundreds if Pakistan are to compete, let alone win a Test match in this series.

Hasan Ali. (Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Salman Ali Agha

Salman Ali Agha is a batting all rounder. He has an impressive start to his Test career, scoring two centuries and four half centuries in nine Test matches so far. Salman bowls off spin, taking nine wickets so far, but goes at an economy of 3.81 RPO. Salman will likely bat at number six for Pakistan and go after the Australian bowling attack while offering a break for Pakistan’s frontline bowlers with his off breaks. A huge disadvantage for Salman is that he has never played a first class match outside of Asia. He could be in for a rude awakening come the first Test in Perth.

Abrar Ahmed

The best way to describe Abrar Ahmed is that he is a mystery spinner. Ahmed is in the same mould as Sunil Narine, Mujeeb Zadran, Ajantha Mendis etc in his ability to spin the ball both ways. On his day, Ahmed is a match winner. But touring Australia having only played six Tests and not played a first class match outside of Asia before, a daunting challenge awaits. Not to mention that Australia is a graveyard for opposition Test spinners, with even greats such as Anil Kumble and Ravichandran Ashwin needing a few tours to get used to Australian conditions. Australia will likely target Ahmed from ball one and could be dropped come the SCG Test if his confidence is shot badly.

Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper)

One of the former Test captains in the Pakistan squad, Sarfaraz Ahmed had to bide his time on the sidelines for a few years following the rise of Mohammad Rizwan. Following some poor form for Rizwan, Ahmed was recalled into the Pakistan Test XI and has played in the nation’s past four Test matches. Ahmed has experience playing Test cricket in Australia, having impressed down the order with a few half centuries in Pakistan’s 3-0 series loss in 2016-17. Whatever the match situation when he walks out to bat, Ahmed will play one way – aggressively.

Shaheen Shah Afridi. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images)

Shaheen Afridi

The left arm seamer has had a splendid Test career so far despite struggling in England, Australia and New Zealand so far. Now a few more years into his Test career, Afridi will look to create havoc and lead the Pakistan bowling attack. However, he needs to be more threatening in his latter spells having usually fizzed out after his first spell in Test cricket.

Hasan Ali

A right arm medium fast bowler, Hasan Ali has a bag of tricks up his sleeve. Despite not playing any red ball cricket since June 2023, the longest format suits Ali the best. The seamer has had an impressive Test career for Pakistan and with two seasons of county cricket under his belt, Pakistan will be looking at Ali to step up in foreign conditions, especially with the older ball.

Nouman Ali

A left arm spinner by trade, Ali will likely be handing out drinks to the Pakistan XI unless Shan Masood opts for the 37-year-old to play in Perth over Abrar Ahmed.

Faheem Ashraf

Ashraf has struggled to nail a spot in the Pakistan Test team as a middle order bat or as a seamer. The allrounder is coming off a successful first class season in Pakistan, scoring 412 runs in 10 innings and 16 wickets at an average of 25.12. Should Pakistan want to play with four frontline seamers, Ashraf would likely play the fourth seamer role and provide some depth to the Pakistan tail.

Saim Ayub

A left handed opener, Ayub is known more for his exploits in white ball cricket, having played in the Caribbean Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League outside of the Pakistan Super League. The left hander is a strong player square of the wicket and had a successful 2023-24 FC season in Pakistan, hitting three hundreds in four games. However, it is highly unlikely that Ayub will make his Test debut against Australia unless the openers do poorly in the opening two Tests. Definitely a player to watch out for in the future though.

Babar Azam. (Photo by Jono Searle – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Babar Azam

The star bat in the Pakistan lineup, the pressure is on Azam to fire and score big runs for Pakistan. Azam has toured Australia twice, so he has an idea of Australian conditions when it comes to playing Test cricket. The key for Azam is to start well. He started his Test tours of Australia in 2016 and 2019 with scores of 19 and 1 respectively. Pakistan cannot afford him to start the series poorly with the bat as it will put them on the back foot massively. If Babar Azam wants to be put in the same bracket as players such as Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli, it’s crucial to start the series well with the bat Down Under.

Mir Hamza

A left arm seamer, Hamza has had a successful first class career, averaging under 22.5 with the ball. However, that has not translated to success at Test level so far. Hamza will likely carry the drinks and with the pitches that are likely to be used at Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, it is hard to see Hamza in the playing XI for Pakistan.

Imam Ul Haq

Nephew of the legendary middle order bat Inzamam Ul Haq, Imam Ul Haq has had a relatively underwhelming Test career, averaging 38 after 22 Tests despite averaging over 60 in Pakistan. Averaging under 30 in all nations bar Pakistan and Ireland, Imam Ul Haq could be in for a tough ride opening alongside Abdullah Shafique. With a glaring weakness against the short ball exposed during the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, Imam Ul Haq can expect plenty of chin music during his tour Down Under.

Aamer Jamal

Jamal’s inclusion is a massive surprise when a quality bowler in Mohammad Abbas continues to be excluded from the Pakistan Test squad. A medium pacer at best, Jamal averages over 31 with the ball in first class cricket. Just like Hamza, expect Jamal to spend the tour of Australia providing Gatorade to the playing XI.

Mohammad Wasim Jnr

A right arm medium fast bowler, Wasim Jnr has a lot of potential. He bowls quick, gets the ball to reverse and offers some batting down the order. Despite a lack of experience in first class cricket, Wasim Jnr could play as the third seamer.

Mohammad Rizwan

Rizwan had a good tour of Australia in 2019 with the bat. However, his poor form has led to him getting dropped from the Pakistan playing XI. Considering how well he plays pace, Rizwan could possibly play as a specialist bat should Pakistan only play four frontline bowlers and no all rounder.

Mohammad Rizwan. (Photo by Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Abdullah Shafique

Opening alongside Imam Ul Haq, Abdullah Shafique has had a successful Test career so far, averaging 50.83 after 14 Tests. However, Shafique has never played a first class match outside of Asia. Pressure will be on the opener to do well. If Shafique can adjust to the extra bounce in Australia, he will continue to churn out the runs. If not, it could be a long tour for the opener.

Khurram Shahzad

Another right arm medium bowler, Shahzad had a successful FC season in Pakistan recently, taking 36 wickets at an average of 20.3. Down the pecking order, Shahzad is unlikely to play unless injury hits the Pakistani fast bowler’s camp.

Saud Shakeel

Saud Shakeel has had a fantastic start to his Test career, scoring 875 runs in seven Tests at an average of 87.5 with two hundreds and six half centuries to his name. Shakeel’s first class career comprises four games being played against non Asian teams outside of Asia, scoring 72 runs in four matches at an average of 12. With a poor FC record outside of Asia alongside a glaring weakness against the short ball, Shakeel can expect plenty of chin music like Imam Ul Haq.

Predicted XI: Imam Ul Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood (captain), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Salman Ali Agha/Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Shaheen Afridi, Abrar Ahmed


It’s hard to see this Pakistan side being competitive enough to win a Test down under, let alone win a series. The batting has plenty of flaws but can bat well outside of Asia, the bowling attack is unlikely to take 20 wickets with Mohammad Abbas somehow not good enough to make the Pakistan Test squad while the Pakistanis do not have a spinner who could keep things quiet, let alone spin their team to victory.

Australia 3-0, unless the weather causes a draw or two.

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