4-1 Loss Bring Azhar's Chances to Lead Pakistan 'Zero'
KARACHI: Following Pakistan’s 4-1 loss in five-match ODI series against the Australia, the Pakistan Cricket Board is now “seriously considering” to remove Azhar Ali from the post of team’s captain and name wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed as his successor.
Azhar was named Pakistan’s captain following team’s early exit from the World Cup 2015 which forced the then captain Misbahul Haq to step down from captaincy and announce his retirement from limited over cricket.
Since then, Azhar has led Pakistan in 31 ODIs, winning only 12 of them while 18 games ended with results in opponent’s favour, leaving a big question mark on Azhar’s ability as team’s captain.
Although, his individual record as a batsman is notable, but series defeats by Bangladesh, England, New Zealand and Australia have left PCB, according to sources, with no other option but to remove him.
Azhar was asked to step down earlier as well after Pakistan’s 4-1 defeat in England. He, however, refused to step down and led Pakistan to 3-0 win in three-match ODI series against West Indies in the United Arab Emirates.
However, the 3-0 win didn’t help Azhar Ali to win the confidence of chairman PCB Shahryar Khan and the former diplomat clearly said ahead of series against Australia that team’s performance in five-match series would determine Azhar Ali’s future as ODI captain.
"We are more than happy with Azhar as a player, human being and a person. But, his leadership skills have not given us confidence and his place in ODI side is on shaky ground,” Shahryar Khan had said in December 2016.
Now the defeat in five-match series has provided Pakistan Cricket Board with an opportunity to replace Azhar Ali with Sarfraz Ahmed, and the PCB’s think-tank in Lahore have agreed to do so ahead of Pakistan’s next assignment in West Indies.
“PCB’s chairman Shahryar Khan and the chief selector Inzamamul Haq have agreed on the point that Azhar should not be retained as captain for the next assignment,” said a source privy to the developments in power-corridor of PCB.
“But, the board will wait for Azhar and team to return home from Australia. A likelihood that Azhar would be asked to resign himself, instead of being sacked,” the source added.
Azhar, if removed, will be replaced by current T20I captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who in future is also tipped as favourite to take over the role of Test captain, once Misbah retires from international cricket.
“Misbah has said that he would make up his mind during the Pakistan Super League if he decides to retire then Sarfraz Ahmed is likely to be the certain choice to be named as Pakistan’s captain in all the three formats of international cricket,” said the source.
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