Sarfraz Ahmed axed from Pakistan Test and T20I squads, Azhar Ali and Babar Azam named as new captains

Waseem Ahmed 13:05 18/10/2019
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Sarfraz Ahmed.

In a major revamp to the Pakistan cricket team, Sarfraz Ahmed has been removed as skipper of the Test and T20I outfits ahead of the upcoming tour of Australia. In his stead, veteran opener Azhar Ali has been appointed as the Test captain for Pakistan’s engagements in the 2019-20 World Test Championship (WTC) while Babar Azam will now lead the T20I side.

Having lost his captaincy in the two formats, Sarfraz has also been axed from both squads with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) press release citing the wicketkeeper batsman’s overall drop in form as the reason for his ouster.

It is arguably the biggest decision head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has made since taking charge of his new dual role. Pakistan’s Test results had been dipping for some time now with the squad losing home series in the UAE against Sri Lanka and New Zealand while they were also blanked 3-0 in South Africa earlier this year.

“It has been an honour to lead Pakistan at the highest level. I want to thank all my colleagues, coaches and selectors who have helped me in this journey,” Sarfraz stated.

“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.”

With the team’s ICC Test ranking dropping to No7, the management have opted to go with a new skipper in Azhar Ali to lead the team for their upcoming engagements in the WTC. Pakistan are due to play two Tests against Australia in their upcoming tour which will get underway towards the end of November.

“There is no bigger honour than to captain the Pakistan national cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game,” newly appointed Test skipper Azhar Ali said.

“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.

“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.”

Babar Azam.

Babar Azam.

Star batsman Babar Azam has now been given the reigns of the No1 ranked T20I side until the end of the 2020 World Cup in Australia at least. The Men in Green are coming off a humiliating 0-3 loss to a second-string Sri Lanka on home soil and they will hope to make amends Down Under where they take on the hosts in three T20 clashes.

“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 on his appointment.

“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.”

No decision has been taken so far on the ODI captaincy with Pakistan not slated to play any matches in that format until July, 2020. The PCB have stated that a decision on the Test and T20I vice-captaincies will be taken closer to the Australia series.

The Pakistan Test and T20I squads for the Australia series will be announced later on Friday.

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