Pakistan Cricket Board has stripped Sarfaraz Ahmed of his Test and T20I captaincy, consequently dropping him from their upcoming tour of Australia. Pakistan are set to play a three-match T20I series against Australia starting November 3. Following the T20Is, they will play two Tests to kick off their World Test Championship quest.
Pakistan will not be playing any ODI cricket until July 2020, when they set out on a tour of Netherlands, Ireland and England. PCB confirmed that a decision on Sarfaraz’s ODI captaincy will not be taken until next year. However, they have named Azhar Ali and Babar Azam as the Test and T20I captain respectively.
“Difficult decision to drop Sarfaraz”: Mani
“It has been a difficult decision to drop Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has performed well as a player and a leader. But, his loss in form and confidence is visible. In the best interest of the team, it has been decided to leave him out, provide him the opportunity to reflect and regroup himself, and try to reclaim his form away from international cricket,” PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said.
The highlight of Sarfaraz’s captaincy came in 2017 when Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy and became the No.1 ranked T20I team in the world. But the final nail on his captaincy axe came during their home series against Sri Lanka. The Lankans, visiting with a ‘B’ team hammered the hosts 3-0 to win the series.
“Look forward to justifying the faith”: Ali
Azhar Ali, who quit ODIs last year to focus on Test cricket, is Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in the format. With 15 Test tons and 5669 runs so far, it will be interesting to see how well the batsman can handle captaincy.
“There is no bigger honour than to captain the Pakistan national cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game. I feel humbled, excited and privileged. With the support of the team, I look forward to justifying the faith that has been entrusted upon me for the World Test Championship,” Ali said on his appointment.
“Sarfaraz Ahmed has done an excellent job in transforming raw talent into experienced players. I now look forward to inspiring those skillful players in our endeavours to collectively achieve our WTC objectives and beyond.”
Babar Azam is currently the No.1 T20I batsman in the world. He was also Pakistan’s vice-captain in the recently concluded T20I series. This will not be his first captaincy stint, having already led Pakistan in the 2012 U-19 World Cup in Australia.
“To be named captain of the No.1 ranked side in the world is the biggest thing that has happened to my career to date,” Babar said.
“I am ready for this challenge and also willing to learn more in the process. I feel it has been a natural progression for me. Delighted that the PCB has put faith in my capabilities.”