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Shaheen, Imam Dropped; Abrar To Return? Here's Pakistan's Probable Playing XI For SCG Test

image-lqt1bqooShaheen Afridi (AP Photos)

The series honours might be gone, but Pakistan have pride at stake leading into the New Year's Test in Australia at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), starting January 3.

The visitors might have conceded an unassailable 2-0 lead to Pat Cummins' men, but the fight shown and spirits exhibited in the Boxing Day Test at MCG would be inspirational for them to give the hosts another stiff challenge.

Pakistan might consider tinkering with their playing XI for the clash at SCG, with two tactical and one futuristic change on the cards for the tourists.

While their lead spinner Abrar Ahmed looks set for a comeback after overcoming his injury, the team management could consider dropping their struggling opener Imam-Ul-Haq for his young backup option Saim Ayub, and might be resting spearhead Shaheen Afridi.

Pakistan Probable XI For 3rd Test At SCG 

Abrar, who picked up a leg injury while playing the pre-series warm-up game against an Australian PM's XI, missed the first two Tests in Perth and Melbourne as he continued his rehabilitation from the discomfort and pain caused.

The cricketer is now ripe for a comeback to the playing XI and bolsters Pakistan's bowling attack on a dry and slow surface at the SCG, which will suit him and allow him to trouble the Australians in the middle.

Abrar's return would've posed a headache for the team management on who to drop among their fast-bowling options at the non-Shaheen end after all three of Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali, and Amer Jamal gave an impressive account of themselves.

But with reports doing the rounds that Shaheen could be rested for the New Year's Test to manage his workload and fatigue ahead of the New Zealand T20Is, for which he is captain, it could become an easy swap for the think-tank. 

Shaheen had bowled 27 overs in the first half of the Perth Test and backed it up with 18.2 overs in the second. His workload for the MCG clash was just as high in a four-man attack as the left-arm quick once again delivered 27 overs in the first innings and another set of 27 overs in the second. 

Pakistan fought valiantly on the batting front against the tall Aussie quicks but could opt for a change at the top of the order amidst the struggles of Imam, whose mere 94 runs in the four innings of the series could unlock doors for Ayub to make his Test debut. 

The 21-year-old left-hander, who has played 8 T20Is for Pakistan, is in the squad on the back of consistent domestic first-class performances, averaging 46.47 after 14 games with three hundreds next to his name. 

Pakistan's Probable XI: Abdullah Shafique, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood (c), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Aamer Jamal, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Mir Hamza