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Pakistan call up 17-year-old spinner

Selectors pluck teenage tweaker from first-class ranks as back-up for injured superstar Yasir

Pakistan have added 17-year-old left-arm spinner Mohammad Asghar to their squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Bank Test series against Australia, with ongoing concern about the potential availability of injured leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

Asghar became the 17th member of Pakistan's Test squad after team management made a request to the national selection committee due to Yasir's back injury, which has ruled the superstar spinner out of the ongoing tour match against a Cricket Australia XI in Cairns.

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The teenager, who is uncapped at international level, has earned his call-up largely due to a strong performance for Pakistan A in the unofficial Test series against Zimbabwe A in October, in which he grabbed 13 wickets at 29.61 across two four-day matches in Bulawayo.

He also bagged a five-wicket haul in the limited overs leg of the Zimbabwe tour.

Asghar's most recent outing in first-class cricket was just a week ago when he bowled a marathon 72 overs for three wickets for United Bank Limited in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against Habib Bank Limited in Karachi.

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The match did not go to a second innings afte it was abandoned on the third day following a fire in the hotel in which the players were staying, which tragically killed 11 people.

Asghar missed part of the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the country’s premier first-class tournament, due to his involvement with Khulna Titans in the Bangladesh Premier League and has been preferred by Paksitan selectors over veteran left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who failed to make a significant impact in the recent Test series against West Indies, producing just three wickets in two Tests at a paltry average of 49.66.

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The left-armer first rose to prominence during the maiden edition of the Pakistan Super League in the United Arab Emirates where he was picked up by Peshawar Zalmi from the emerging players category.

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He ended the tournament with 11 wickets at an average of 18.45 and an impressive economy rate of 6.54.

He was also the youngest player in the tournament.

If Yasir fails to recover from the back injury then Asghar will be in line to make his Test debut in Brisbane and could become first Pakistan left-arm spinner to play a Test in Australia since Nadeem Ghauri at Sydney Cricket Ground in 1990. 

Pakistan's tour match against the CA XI is being live streamed on cricket.com.au, the CA Live app and Cricket Network on Facebook.

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Meg Lanning Steve Smith