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Pakistan’s experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik is in line to make a comeback to Test cricket after more than five years.
According a reliable source close to the national selection committee, Malik is being considered as a serious candidate to be drafted into the Test squad for the series against England in the UAE.
Malik was not named in the squad of 15 announced last month for the three match series and he last played a Test in England in August 2010.
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“Malik is a strong candidate to make a Test comeback because of his seniority and current form and because of the worries the selectors have over the form of Ahmed Shehzad and Muhammad Hafeez and also the latter’s inability to weigh in with his off-spin bowling,” the source told PTI.
He said that chief selector Haroon Rasheed would be speaking with the national team management including captain Misbah-ul-Haq and head coach Waqar Younis to decide on the 16th player to be added to the squad.
“Haroon is in favor of Malik as he wants an experienced batsman in the middle order who can also bowl off-spin as the fifth bowler in Tests,” the source said.
He said the selectors were worried that they didn’t have an off-break bowler in the squad to counter the England left handers and were also clear that Pakistan would need to play four specialist bowlers including two spinners.
“Haroon believes that Malik is ideal for the role as he can fill the role that Hafeez used to do until last year,” the source said.
The source said the selectors would also discuss the possibility of calling up Bilal Asif who took 5 for 25 and scored 39 as an opener in the third one-dayer against Zimbabwe on Monday.
“But the vote is likely to go in favor of Malik as he is a batting allrounder while Asif is still inexperienced and his primary role is that of a bowler and not as a batsman,” the source said.
Malik, since being recalled to the T20 and ODI squads last year, has been scoring runs prolifically in the middle order and made an unbeaten 96 in the second ODI at Harare.