EXCLUSIVE: Prolific Pakistan batsman Saud Shakeel joins Yorkshire for the initial knockings of the County Championship after New Zealand paceman Neil Wagner was ruled out through injury
- Saud Shakeel will join Yorkshire for the early part of the County Championship
- The 27-year-old made stunning start to his Test career last winter vs England
- It will be opened he can bolster their top order for the initial knockings of season
Yorkshire have signed prolific Pakistan batsman Saud Shakeel for the early part of the County Championship season after Neil Wagner was ruled out through injury.
Shakeel made a stunning start to his Test career last winter against England and New Zealand, hitting 50s in each of his first five appearances and averaging 72.5 in the process.
The 27-year-old could make his debut in the opening Division Two fixture versus Leicestershire, starting at Headingley next Thursday, depending on the speed with which his visa is processed.
The left-hander will bolster a Yorkshire top six that could be missing another Pakistani in Shan Masood, the new club captain, during the opening rounds of Championship action.
Masood, signed from Derbyshire on a two-year deal last September, was a non-playing member of the Pakistan Twenty20 squad that lost 2-1 to Afghanistan this week and remains in the frame for his country’s dual five-match home series against New Zealand in T20 and one-day internationals from April 14.
Saud Shakeel has joined Yorkshire for the initial knockings of this summer’s County Championship
The batsman was imperious against England and New Zealand during his first Test winter
In the event that Masood, 33, is overlooked for national selection, he will report to Headingley ahead of the club’s first season outside of the top flight since 2012.
Yorkshire opted to replace Wagner – out for between six to eight weeks with a bulging disc in his back and a torn right hamstring incurred during New Zealand Test duty earlier this month – with a batter rather than like-for-like replacement due to the early season availability of their other seamers.
England Test cap Matt Fisher, Ben Coad and Jordan Thompson plus new recruits Ben Mike and Matt Milnes have been joined in Leeds by Australian-raised, British-passport holding pace bowler Mickey Edwards.
It will be hoped he can boost the club’s top six – potentially shorn of new club captain Shan Masood for the first few rounds
Veteran left-armer Wagner will not be fit until late May at the earliest, but Yorkshire have not ruled out him completing a short stint deeper into the campaign.
Elsewhere, Durham have signed left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann after a move for his compatriot Todd Murphy was blocked by Cricket Australia, as revealed by Sportsmail last week.
Meanwhile, Pakistan could play their World Cup games in Bangladesh later this year due to political tensions with tournament hosts India.
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