Azhar resigns, Sarfraz appointed new ODI captain

Sarfraz Ahmed raises his bat to the gallery

Pakistan’s ODI skipper Azhar Ali has resigned from the ODI captaincy post, the PCB has confirmed in a press release, and the keeper-batsman, Sarfraz Ahmad, has been appointed as the new Pakistan ODI skipper.

It is learned that Azhar Ali has informed Shahryar Khan, the PCB Chairman, this morning (February 9) that he no longer wants to continue in his role as a skipper, and only wants to fully focus on his batting.

“Azhar Ali recently called on Chairman PCB Shaharyar M Khan and informed him that he wished to relinquish the captaincy of Pakistan’s ODI team mainly because it was affecting his batting form. Chairman PCB thanked him for his dignified leadership of the team and informed him that his standing in the team would not be affected by his relinquishing of the captaincy.” the PCB press release said.

“After consulting relevant stakeholders, the Chairman has nominated Sarfraz Ahmed as captain of Pakistan’s ODI team for future series.”

Azhar will also miss Pakistan’s next ODI match — which is scheduled in West Indies in April — after he was handed one-match suspension for maintaining slow over-rate during the final ODI match against Australia in Adelaide.

His role in the team was under severe scrutiny following the dismal 1-4 ODI series lost to Australia, and the pressure was mounting on Azhar to call it quits. Under his leadership, Pakistan slumped to a record low rank (9th) in the ICC ODI team rankings and now also faces the challenge of earning the direct entry to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, which features only the top eight teams.

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The 31-year-old had been under the PCB’s radar for some time: Following the 1-4 lost to England in September last year, Ali was asked to consider stepping down by Shahriyar Khan, but he decided to continue, however, he led Pakistan in 3-0 win against West Indies in the UAE. That win prompted the PCB to retain him for the Australia tour. But, Khan continued raising the concerns regarding Azhar’s leadership skills on different platforms throughout the Australia tour.

Azhar Ali led Pakistan in 10 bilateral ODI series and only managed to win 5 out of them – two against Zimbabwe, and one each against weaker opponents like Ireland, West Indies, and Sri Lanka. In total, Pakistan won 12 games and lost 18 games under his reign.

Pakistan Vice-Captain  Sarfraz Ahmad, who is also the captain of the T20 side, will now lead in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) also.

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