Thursday, 21 November 2019

PCB sacks Sarfraz, names Azhar, Babar as Test, T20 captains

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sacked Sarfraz Ahmed as the national cricket team skipper across all formats while Azhar Ali and Babar Azam were named as new Test and T20 captains respectively.

The cricket board has taken this decision to Sarfraz Ahmed’s drop in overall form, which has also affected his confidence while the national side also humiliated by young Sri Lankan team, who inflicted 3-0 whitewash on the top-ranked T20 team.

Seventh-ranked Pakistan will play fifth-ranked Australia in two Tests in Brisbane (21-25 November) and Adelaide (29 November-3 December (d/n)) before hosting Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for two Tests apiece. Pakistan are also scheduled to play three T20s each against Australia (3, 5 and 8 November) and Bangladesh before the curtain falls on their international domestic season in early February 2020.

The PCB has appointed Azhar Ali as Test captain, who is the second most successful batsman with 388 runs in four matches with his side Central Punjab leading the field with two wins in the ongoing four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He will captain Pakistan Test team for World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 season.

Azhar has been a mainstay of Pakistan’s batting line-up since making his debut against Australia at Lord’s in 2010. The 34-year-old is regarded as Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s prodigy and has scored 5,669 runs with 15 centuries and 31 half-centuries in 73 Tests. He had an excellent tour of Australia last time when Pakistan were there in 2016-17, when he had scores of 5, 71, 205 not out, 43, 71 and 11.

His other scores against Australia in England and the UAE are 16, 42, 30, 51, 53, 30, 109, 100 not out, 18, 4, 15 and 64.

This means the 21st ranked batsman in the world has aggregated 938 runs in nine Tests against Australia, his second most after Sri Lanka (1156 runs in 14 Tests). Delighted with the new responsibility, Azhar said: “There is no bigger honour than to captain Pakistan cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game.”

The PCB also named Babar Azam as T20 captain of No 1 ranked side until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup Australia 2020, which is now exactly one year away. Babar has previously captained Pakistan in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012. He was vice-captain in the recently-concluded series against Sri Lanka and is presently captaining Central Punjab in the National T20 Cup, where he scored a 59-ball 102 on the opening day against Sindh.

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