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Sarfaraz retained as Pakistan skipper, Babar appointed vice-captain for Sri Lanka series

Sarfaraz Ahmed will remain as Pakistan captain while Babar Azam has been named his deputy for the forthcoming limited-overs series against Sri Lanka at home.

Pakistan is scheduled to play three ODIs and three T20Is against the touring Sri Lankan team in Karachi and Lahore from September 27 to October 9.

The six white-ball fixtures will mark Pakistan's first series since the conclusion of the World Cup, where they failed to secure a semi-final berth.

Sarfaraz, under whose captaincy Pakistan achieved their maiden Champions Trophy title in 2017, was the subject of criticism for his side's early exit in the 50-over showpiece event.

Babar, the No.1 batsman in T20Is, has been elevated to the post of vice-captain, days after he was confirmed as skipper for Central Punjab's First XI side in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

“We have appointed Babar Azam as Sarfaraz’s vice-captain. This is part of Babar’s gradual development as a future captain and in line with our strategy of introducing a succession plan across the board so that there are no gaps. I am hopeful the trio of Misbah, Sarfaraz and Babar will do well for Pakistan cricket," PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said.

The decision follows the appointment of Misbah-ul-Haq as the Pakistan head coach and chief selector replacing the departing Mickey Arthur.

'The only thing missing has been consistency'

Sarfaraz said he looked forward to working with Misbah, Pakistan's most successful Test skipper, and assured the team would benefit from his vast experience.

"I feel humbled and honoured to have been awarded extension to my captaincy term. I have enjoyed captaining the Pakistan cricket team and look forward to improve my leadership qualities under the new set-up of Misbah-ul-Haq who also has a proven record as captain," he said in a statement to the media.

“I have played most of my cricket under Misbah and we know each other pretty well. I think we will make a good combination, which will contribute to improved performances of the side across all formats."

Although faring far better in white-ball cricket as compared to the longer version of the game, Sarfaraz admitted Pakistan had not performed to their potential as they have not won an ODI series since the tour to Zimbabwe in July 2018.

A major area of concern has been Sarfaraz's mediocre scores with the bat but he promised to increase the size of his contributions.

“I am aware we have not done justice to our potential in ODIs, which has disappointed us as well as our fans.

"I am hopeful we will be able to turn things around in the coming season and in this relation, I remain committed to stepping up to the challenge with my performances and captaincy.

“I have complete faith in my team, which has time and again shown the talent, class and charisma it possesses. The only thing missing has been consistency, which Misbah and I would like to focus and improve across all departments of the game."

'I am better placed to get the best out of Sarfaraz'

Misbah, who recently emphasized on introducing a change in the dressing room culture, said he was in a good position to bring the best out of Sarfaraz considering their past association in the national side.

“I want to congratulate Sarfaraz on his confirmation as Pakistan captain and Babar on his appointment as vice-captain. Both are one of the most talented and exceptionally gifted Pakistan cricketers and thoroughly deserve these assignments.

“Consistency has been my yardstick for recommending Sarfaraz as captain. Furthermore, I think I am better placed to get the best out of Sarfaraz as I know him better than most of the cricketers as he has played most of his cricket under my captaincy.

“I have emphasized on changing the dressing room culture and mind-set of the players to achieve better results, and I believe Sarfaraz is a perfect fit to help me attain these objectives."

Misbah revealed the two had already started devising strategies that could better utilize the talent he possesses.

“In the past couple of weeks, Sarfaraz and I have worked together on certain areas of his cricket that will enhance his overall performance.

"Both of us realize it is a performance-oriented world and we are expected to give our best every time we take the field. I look forward to working with him and hope we will succeed in changing the outlook of the Pakistan cricket team," Misbah said.

The list of 19 probables for the Sri Lanka series will be unveiled on September 16 while the final 16-member squads for the ODIs and T20Is will be announced a week later.