The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday stripped Sarfaraz Ahmed from the Test and T20I captaincy of Test and T20I teams. The move comes ahead of the cricket team’s visit to Sri Lanka from October 31, 2019. Azhar Ali is supposed to lead Pakistan’s side in Test matches while Babar Azam will lead the team in T20I squads.
In a statement, 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 skilful players in our endeavours to collectively achieve our World Test Championship objectives and beyond."
Babar Azam 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."
Meanwhile, PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said that the decision to remove Sarfaraz Ahmed was a difficult one. "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 and, in the best interest of the team, it has been decided to leave him out and provide him the opportunity to reflect and regroup himself and try to reclaim his form away from international cricket," said Mani in a statement.
Earlier, Sarfaraz Ahmed was blasted by critics and fans after the team’s defeat at the hands of Virat Kohli-led India in ICC World Cup 2019 as well as subsequent unceremonious exit from the quadrennial event. The former wicket-keeper captain’s batting and wicket-keeping form had been under the scanner. Along with his form, Sarfaraz’s fitness had also been a cause of concern. Recently, Pakistan was thrashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka at home in the T20I series.
Babar Azam is in tremendous form in ODI cricket notching up 11 centuries in just 71 innings. In the process, he also broke Virat Kohli’s record who took 82 innings to reach the milestone.
With the T20 World Cup scheduled to take place next year, Babar Azam will have a big task at hand as Pakistan is the number one T20 side in ICC rankings. Alongside, Misbah-Ul-Haq, Babar Azam will have to rebuild his team to ensure they get good results in the T20 World Cup.
As far as Test cricket is concerned, Azhar Ali will also have to rebuild the Pakistani side. The team is ranked at the 7th position, which they will look to improve. The ongoing Test championship has seen India at the top of the table after winning the two-match series against West Indies and they currently lead 2-0 against South Africa in the three-match series.
In 2017, under Sarfaraz’s leadership, Pakistan managed to win the ICC champions trophy by defeating India in the final. The Pakistan Cricket Board is also likely to make a decision on the ODI captaincy soon. The Vice- Captaincy of the team will also be announced soon, according to reports.