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PCB remove Sarfaraz as Test, T20I captain
Sarfaraz Ahmed sacked by the PCB

PCB remove Sarfaraz as Test, T20I captain

Sarfaraz Ahmed has been removed as Test and T20I captain, it was announced in a press release by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He has also been left out of the Test and T20I squads for the Australia tour next month.

Azhar Ali will lead Pakistan in Tests while Babar Azam will captain Pakistan in T20Is until the next year's World Cup in Australia.

Sarfaraz's poor run of form in the past few series has been cited as the main reason for the change in leadership.

He took over the reins of the Test team after the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq, the current head coach and chief selector of Pakistan, but saw limited success in the longer version of the game.

He finishes his two-year stint in the role with four wins and eight defeats in 13 games, facing a 0-3 loss against South Africa in the last Test series in charge of the side.

The No. 7 ranked Pakistan will now be led by Test specialist Azhar, who was entrusted with the responsibility of captaining the team for one Test in New Zealand in 2016 when Misbah was suspended for one match due to slow over rate.

“There is no bigger honour than to captain the Pakistan national cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game. I feel humbled, excited and privileged, and with the support of the team, look forward to justifying the faith that has been entrusted upon me for the World Test Championship," Azhar spoke following his appointment as the Test skipper.

Meanwhile, Babar has been elevated to the post of T20I captain after the series whitewash at the hands of an inexperienced Sri Lanka squad in Lahore.

The 25-year-old, who is the world No. 1 T20I batsman, was recently named the vice-captain for the Sri Lanka series and is leading Central Punjab in the National T20 Cup.

Sarfaraz was at the helm of Pakistan's rise to the No. 1 spot in T20I rankings, winning 11 consecutive series along the way.

His removal as captain in the shortest format is thus bound to raise a few eyebrows.

'Sarfaraz's loss in form and confidence is visible' - Ehsan Mani

Doubts persist over Sarfaraz's future as the leader of the ODI set-up as well although there has been no announcement by the PCB regarding this.

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani conceded it was "difficult" to drop such an integral member of the team but Sarfaraz's batting woes left the selectors with no choice but to leave him out of the side.

“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," Mani said.

Sarfaraz, having batted most of his T20I career in the lower order, promoted himself up the order across the three-match series against Sri Lanka but managed just 67 runs at a strike rate of 108.06.

Also Read: Five reasons why Pakistan got cleaned up against mercurial Sri Lanka

“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," Sarfaraz said in a statement.

"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."

Babar labelled the captaincy job as the biggest accomplishment of his career and hoped to harbour consistency in terms of team results.

Having previously captained Pakistan in the 2012 U19 World Cup, Babar will have a tough assignment to retain Pakistan's top position in T20I cricket.

“To be named captain of the No.1 ranked side in the world is the biggest thing that has happened to my career to date. I am ready for this challenge and also willing to learn more in the process. I feel it has been a natural progression for me and I am delighted that the PCB has put faith in my capabilities," he said.