Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked as Pakistan's Test and T20 captain and dropped from the teams in both the formats on Friday, 18 October.
In an official announcement on Friday, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that experienced batsman Azhar Ali would lead the Test side in the World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 season while Babar Azam would be the captain in the shortest format until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup.
"“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.”" - Azhar Ali
“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,” Babar Azam was quoted as saying in a press release by PCB.
Good Wishes to Azhar, Babar, Team Pakistan: Sarfaraz
Sarfaraz has been captain in all three formats of the game since the last two years, and has led Pakistan to the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy title.
In Tests and ODIs, Pakistan's ranking has slipped under his captaincy while they were whitewashed in the recent T20 home series against Sri Lanka.
The PCB also released a short statement from Sarfaraz.
"“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. 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.”" - Sarfaraz Ahmed
Sarfaraz, who was the toast of the nation after Pakistan beat India in the Champions Trophy final, has had a torrid time in the Test and ODI formats in the last two years when Mickey Arthur was the head coach.
He came under fire recently when a depleted Sri Lankan team swamped Pakistan 3-0 in the T20 series in Lahore.
With his own form suffering with the bat, speculations were rife that the new head coach cum chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq would move to make changes in the captaincy in the three formats but no one was expecting Sarfaraz to be sacked so quickly.
Sarfaraz’s Loss in Form and Confidence Visible: PCB Chairman
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, who approved the appointments, said, “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”.
It was expected he would be retained for the three T20 matches in Australia in early November although indicators were there Misbah would recommend to the PCB to have Ali lead the Test side in place of Sarfaraz.
Sarfaraz also mucked up in the ongoing National T20 Championship in Faisalabad where he backed out of leading the Sindh team and preferred to focus on his batting and allow Test batsman Asad Shafiq to lead the team.
This is the first experience for Babar, 25, to lead the national team in any format.
He has been Pakistan's leading scorer in the last two years in the white ball formats and is also slowly establishing himself in Test cricket. Babar, who hails from Lahore, already has hit 12 hundreds in 95 limited over matches for Pakistan.
Ali has led Pakistan in One-day Internationals between April 2015 and February 2017, winning 12 and losing 18 matches.
He stepped down as ODI captain and was replaced by Sarfaraz in February 2017 after a 1-4 loss in Australia.
Azhar, 34, who has played in 73 Tests and 53 ODIs was a surprise choice as captain of the ODI squad after the 2015 World Cup as he had not played any ODIs in two years time.
The PCB said the squad for the Australian tour would be announced on 21 October.
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