Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has sacked Sarfaraz Ahmed from the Test and T20I captaincy due to the drop in his overall form during the past few series.
PCB hands Azhar Ali the Test captaincy for Pakistan’s World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 season, while Babar Azam has been named captain of the shortest format until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
Under Sarfaraz’s captaincy, Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in 2017 and rose to the top of the T20I rankings. But he has been under a lot of criticism due to overall poor run especially in the most recent Sri Lanka tour to Pakistan. The No. 1 ranked T20I side was thrashed 3-0 under his captaincy in Lahore.
“It has been an honor to lead Pakistan at the highest level,” Sarfaraz said.
“I want to thank all my colleagues, coaches and selectors who have helped me in this journey. My good wishes are with Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and the Pakistan cricket team, and I hope they will continue to grow stronger and stronger,” he added.
According to various reports, Sarfaraz has also been dropped from the upcoming tour of Australia, where Pakistan will play three T20Is and kick-off their World Test Championship campaign with two Tests.
Pakistan stalwart Babar Azam is currently ranked No. 1 in the shortest format. The 25-year old was also the vice-captain of Pakistan in the recently concluded Sri Lanka series. Babar is also leading Central Punjab in the on-going National T20 Cup and had also led Pakistan in the Under-19 World Cup in Australia in 2012.
“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. 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 and I am delighted that the PCB has put faith in my capabilities,” Babar said.
“Sarfaraz Ahmed has led the side in the shortest format by example and it is my responsibility to take forward his accomplishments so that we remain a consistent, attractive and powerful side” he added.
As for the Test format, Azhar Ali is currently Pakistan’s leading batsman in the Test format and also quit ODI cricket last year in order to focus on the longest format of the game.
“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, and with the support of the team, look forward to justifying the faith that has been entrusted upon me for the World Test Championship,” Azhar Ali said.
“Sarfaraz Ahmed has done an excellent job in transforming raw talent into experienced players and I now look forward to inspiring those skillful players in our endeavours to collectively achieve our World Test Championship objectives and beyond.
“These are exciting times in Pakistan cricket with a new team management. As a captain, I feel comfortable that there will be number of knowledgeable people in the hut who I can rely for advice and guidance.
“I am not only targeting wins, but also aim to provide opportunities to players to grow in stature and express themselves so that Pakistan cricket can resume its journey to the top. I have always played my cricket the hard way but in a fair manner, and will ensure I continue to uphold the spirit of cricket and enhance the image of the team and the country.”
It has also been stated that a decision on ODI captaincy will be taken later since Pakistan are scheduled to play in the 50-over format only next year in July against Netherlands.