(Reuters) – Pakistan have dropped out-of-sorts pace bowler Mohammad Amir from their 17-man squad for next month’s two-test series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates, with left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz earning a recall.
Amir, who was handed a five-year ban for spot-fixing in 2011, returned to international cricket two years ago and has established himself as a spearhead for their attack, playing in all but one of Pakistan’s 20 tests in that period.
The 26-year-old, however, failed to take a wicket in three Asia Cup matches this month and was dropped in Pakistan’s two other contests at the six-team, one-day international tournament in the UAE.
Amir’s poor form and his inability to swing the ball on the slow and spin-friendly pitches in the UAE would have likely convinced selectors to seek pace alternatives, where similar conditions during the test series are expected.
Riaz, meanwhile, who has not played test cricket since October and was overlooked for Pakistan’s series in England and Ireland earlier this year, is more likely to be able to put pressure on Australia with his reverse swing.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will be backed up as wicketkeeper by Mohammad Rizwan, who played his sole test against New Zealand in Hamilton almost two years ago.
“The team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions in the UAE, where Mohammad Amir has been dropped from the side and Wahab Riaz and Mir Hamza come in,” Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said in a statement.
“Three spinners: Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif have been kept in the squad, keeping in view the UAE wickets.”
Australia, who have not won a series in Asia since 2011, play the first test against Pakistan from Oct. 7 in Dubai, followed by the second test at Abu Dhabi from Oct. 16.
Pakistan has hosted a majority of their international matches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah since 2009 due to security concerns.
Squad: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)