Azhar Ali, Babar Azam replace Sarfaraz as Test, T20 captain

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam replace Sarfaraz Ahmed in Test, T20

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed with batsmen Azhar Ali and Babar Azam. The statement came out when Sarfaraz Ahmed was dismissed from all three formats of the cricket matches.

According to PCB’s statement, Azhar Ali has been appointed national cricket team captain for Pakistan’s World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 seasons, while Babar Azam has been named captain of the number one ranked T20I side until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup Australia 2020.

The appointments were confirmed after Sarfaraz Ahmed was left out of both formats due to the drop in his overall form during the past few series.

Pakistan will play Australia in two Tests in Brisbane (21-25 November) and Adelaide (29 November-3 December before hosting Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for two Tests apiece.

Pakistan are also scheduled to play three T20Is each against Australia on 3rd, 5th and 8th November and Bangladesh before the curtain falls on their international domestic season in early February 2020.

Azhar Ali’s reaction

Reacting to the news Azhar Ali said, “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.

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.

“These are exciting times in Pakistan cricket with a new team management. As a captain, I feel comfortable that there will be number of knowledgeable people in the hut who I can rely for advice and guidance.

“I am not only targeting wins, but also aim to provide opportunities to players to grow in stature and express themselves so that Pakistan cricket can resume its journey to the top. I have always played my cricket the hard way but in a fair manner, and will ensure I continue to uphold the spirit of cricket and enhance the image of the team and the country.”

Sarfaraz, Babar Azam’s reaction

On the other hand, Sarfaraz Ahmed wished ‘best of luck’ to both players for the new roles they have been assigned to.

“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,” added former captain.

Babar Azam said said that being named captain is the biggest thing that has happened this career. “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.

“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.”

PCB Chairman’s reaction

PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, who approved the appointments, congratulated Azhar Ali and Babar Azam on their elevations to the most coveted and prestigious jobs in cricket.

“It is a reward for their continued hard work in strive for excellence and I am sure they, like their predecessors, will make the country proud with their performance, leadership and sportsmanship.

“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.

“Sarfaraz Ahmed’s contributions are second to none and being the gutsy cricketer and fighter that we all know he is, I have no doubts he will be back in Pakistan colours at some stage.”

The PCB will decide the vice-captaincy closer to the series, whilst captaincy for the ODIs will be finalised in due course.

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