Sarfaraz Ahmed will retain his leadership role for Sri Lanka’s limited-overs visit to Pakistan, while Babar Azam will fill in as vice-captain.
With the Pakistan Cricket Board and former head coach Mickey Arthur having parted ways after the Men’s Cricket World Cup, in which Pakistan failed narrowly to make the semi-finals, there had been speculation that Sarfaraz would similarly find himself out of a role, with Pakistan embarking on a new era, and the PCB choosing to name their captain on a series-by-series basis.
However, new head coach and chief of selectors Misbah-ul-Haq, together with the Pakistan Cricket Committee, have given their support to Sarfaraz as cricket continues its return to the country.
“Consistency has been my yardstick for recommending Sarfaraz as captain,” said Misbah. “Furthermore, I think I am better placed to get the best out of Sarfaraz as I know him better than most of the cricketers as he has played most of his cricket under my captaincy."
“I have emphasised on changing the dressing room culture and mind-set of the players to achieve better results, and I believe Sarfaraz is a perfect fit to help me attain these objectives."
“In the past couple of weeks, Sarfaraz and I have worked together on certain areas of his cricket that will enhance his overall performance. Both of us realise it is a performance-oriented world and we are expected to give our best every time we take the field. I look forward to working with him and hope we will succeed in changing the outlook of the Pakistan cricket team.”
Sarfaraz indicated that he was looking forward to working under Misbah, but acknowledged his team had areas to improve upon. “I have enjoyed captaining the Pakistan cricket team and look forward to improve my leadership qualities under the new set-up of Misbah-ul-Haq who also has a proven record as captain,” he said.
“I have played most of my cricket under Misbah and we know each other pretty well. I think we will make a good combination, which will contribute to improved performances of the side across all formats."
“I am aware we have not done justice to our potential in ODIs, which has disappointed us as well as our fans. I am hopeful we will be able to turn things around in the coming season and in this relation, I remain committed to stepping up to the challenge with my performances and captaincy."
“I have complete faith in my team, which has time and again shown the talent, class and charisma it possesses. The only thing missing has been consistency, which Misbah and I would like to focus and improve across all departments of the game.”
As for Babar, long-established as Pakistan’s leading white-ball batsman and touted as a potential Test star, the move marks the next step on his journey to the top job in Pakistan cricket.
“We have appointed Babar Azam as Sarfaraz’s vice-captain,” said Ehsan Mani, PCB chairman. “This is part of Babar’s gradual development as a future captain and in line with our strategy of introducing a succession plan across the board so that there are no gaps. I am hopeful the trio of Misbah, Sarfaraz and Babar will do well for Pakistan cricket.”
Pakistan’s first ODI against Sri Lanka is set to take place on 27 September.
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