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Azhar Ali gives up ODI captaincy

Wisden India logo Wisden India 09-02-2017

Azhar Ali has relinquished the captaincy of the Pakistan One-Day International team, but Misbah-ul-Haq has sought time to decide on his future as Test captain, Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, has confirmed.

“Azhar told me that captaincy was affecting his batting form, and he has therefore stepped down from the leadership role,” Shaharyar told Wisden India on Thursday (February 9). “Sarfraz Ahmed will take over as the captain of the ODI and Twenty20 International teams. We offered him both the roles, and he was happy to accept them.”

Azhar has overseen series losses in England and Australia in the last five months, and made scores of 24, 7 and 6 in his three appearances in Australia last month. He has made just two half-centuries and a hundred in his last 23 innings as captain.

Khan had said openly during the Australia tour that Azhar had lost confidence as skipper and that a series defeat could end his tenure, which controversially started after Misbah retired from one-day cricket following the 2015 World Cup.

That was after Azhar stubbornly refused to step down as skipper following defeat in England.

Sarfraz, the 29-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, has previously led Pakistan in one ODI and four T20Is.

Shaharyar added that, as of now, there was no change in the Test captaincy. “Misbah has asked for a little more time to reconsider his future,” Shaharyar observed. “We will give him that time and wait for him to make his decision.” It had been widely speculated that Misbah would call it quits after the 0-3 whitewash in Australia last month.

The development came after four key individuals – Khan, head coach Mickey Arthur, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and Misbah – met to deliberate and reach consensus on how to change the mindset of Pakistan’s one-day side, which has slid to eighth in the rankings since Azhar took over.

Inzamam was in favour of appointing Sarfraz captain in all three formats, like India have now done with Virat Kohli, but Khan and Arthur were of the opinion that Sarfraz might crumble under the pressure and that his wicket-keeping might be affected.

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