Sarfraz replaces Azhar Ali as ODI captain


KARACHI: Beleaguered Pakistan’s One Day International captain Azhar Ali has decided to step down from his position presumably ‘after repeated team failures in the limited overs format’. Sarfraz Ahmed is set to take the ODI reins, confirms Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shehryar Khan.

Talking to ARY News, Khan said Azhar wanted to step down as captain citing him as saying his performance was being ‘affected’ alongside captaincy job. He said Sarfraz, who is also the T20 skipper, will be the new captain of the ODI side.

Sarfraz has so far played 67 ODIs, accumulating 1,498 runs at an average of 34.8. He has a decent strike rate of 88.7 in the format. Besides, he also has two centuries and six fifties to his credit.

According to Shehryar, he nominated Sarfraz as the ODI captain after consultation with head coach Micky Arthur.

Pakistan is due to face West Indies in a three-match ODI series in April. The ODIs will be played on April 7, 9 and 11, respectively. Besides, Pakistan will also play two T20s and three Tests.

The captaincy shake-up comes in the wake of Pakistan’s debacle in the Australia ODI series on their home soil. Pakistan lost the series 4-1.

The young captain has led his team in four T20s so far – one against England at Manchester and three against West Indies in the UAE, after taking charge last year. And Pakistan has won all its matches quite convincingly under him.

Alarmingly at the time Azhar Ali was named as ODI captain in March 2015, he was not in the squad and had, in fact, not featured in an ODI since January 2013.

Under Azhar’s leadership, Pakistan’s slipped to a record-low ninth in the ODI rankings. They have since risen one place to at least be in the running for direct qualification to the 2019 World Cup.

Pakistan have won only five out of ten bilateral series under Azhar, two of them against Zimbabwe, and one each against Ireland, Sri Lanka and West Indies. In all, Pakistan won 12 and lost 18 games.

When asked about Misbah’s captaincy future in Test matches, Shehryar Khan said Misbah he sought some time to reach a final decision.