Pakistan sacks Sarfaraz, names Azhar as Test captain

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Pakistan have sacked Sarfaraz Ahmed as their captain across all formats, naming Azhar Ali on Friday as the new Test skipper and putting Babar Azam in charge of the Twenty20 squad.

LAHORE — Pakistan have sacked Sarfaraz Ahmed as their captain across all formats, naming Azhar Ali on Friday as the new Test skipper and putting Babar Azam in charge of the Twenty20 squad.

Sarfaraz's struggles with his form have also prompted the selectors to drop the stumper-batsman altogether from both the formats.

"It has been a difficult decision to drop Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has performed well as a player and a leader," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani said in a statement.

"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."

Pakistan under Sarfaraz failed to make the knockout stage in this year's 50-overs World Cup and languish at seventh in Test rankings.

A new one-day captain will be named later, the PCB said.

Azhar, who quit as Pakistan ODI captain in 2017, will begin his stint with a two-Test series in Australia later this year before Pakistan host Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for two Tests apiece.

"There is no bigger honor than to captain the Pakistan national cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game," said Azhar who will have former teammate Misbah-ul-Haq as the coach and chief selector.

"These are exciting times in Pakistan cricket with a new team management. As a captain, I feel comfortable that there will be a 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."

Azam has been appointed skipper until next year's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, while Azhar will remain in charge for the 2019-2020 season. Squads for the tour will be announced on Oct. 21.

The change is seen as surprising despite the Sri Lanka whitewash. Pakistan had reached No. 1 in the Twenty20 rankings under Sarfaraz, winning 11 series along the way. Sarfaraz also topped the batting chart with 67 runs across the series.

Sarfaraz congratulated both new captains on the honor. "I wish Azhar and Azam the best of luck and thank all the coaches, selectors and officials for helping me in the journey," he is quoted as saying in the release.

Azhar previously skippered Pakistan in one Test and 31 One-Day Internationals between 2015 and 2017, losing 18 and winning 21 with one no result. — Agencies


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