Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday named a full-strength 18-member Test squad under skipper Pat Cummins for the three-Test series against Pakistan beginning at Rawalpindi on March 4.This will be the first series on Pakistani soil between the two cricketing powerhouses in 24 years, with the crucial ICC World Test Championship points up for grabs.The selectors have included veteran pace bowler Josh Hazlewood, who returns to the side after missing the last four Ashes Tests at home due to a side strain, while left-arm spinner Ashton Agar has also been included as an extra slow-bowling option for experienced off-spinner Nathan Lyon and uncapped leggie Mitchell Swepson.Hazlewood's inclusion adds more depth to Australia's already strong pace bowling line-up, with fast bowler Scott Boland and Michael Neser impressing alongside left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins during the Ashes.
Alex Carey and Josh Inglis will be the two wicketkeepers on the tour, while left-handers Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja look set to battle it out to partner David Warner at the top of the batting order.The only player to feature during the Ashes that won't be flying to the subcontinent is Jhye Richardson, with the pace bowler opting out of the tour.Former Australia batter and chair of the National Selection Panel (NSP) George Bailey, while announcing the side for the historic tour, said that it was an all-weather squad."This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan. With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes Series," said Bailey."It's also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan," he added.
The month-long tour which also includes three One-day Internationals and a one-off T20I besides the three Tests will conclude on April 5 with the T20 game in Rawalpindi. The side for the ODIs and one-off T20I will be announced later.Australia currently sit in second place on the ICC World Test Championship table with 52 points, while Pakistan are just one place behind them in third with 36 points.Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.First Test: March 4-8 in Rawalpindi; Second Test: March 12-16 in Karachi; Third Test: March 21-25 in Lahore.