The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has removed Sarfaraz Ahmed as skipper in the Test and Twenty20 formats due to “drop in the overall form”, a press release issued by the cricketing body said on Friday.
Sarfraz has also been dropped from both the Test and T20 sides.
Azhar Ali will replace the wicket-keeper batsman to captain the team in the upcoming Tests against Australia as well as the World Test Championship in the 2019-20 season.
Similarly, Babar Azam will lead Pakistan in T20 matches against Australia and until the 2020 T20 World Cup, which is a year away.
Reportedly, the decision on vice-captaincy will be made closer to the series, whilst captaincy for the ODIs will be finalised in due course as the national team’s next assignment is scheduled from 4-9 July 2020 against the Netherlands in Amstelveen.
Delighted with the new responsibility, Azhar Ali said, “There is no bigger honour than to captain the Pakistan national cricket team in the pinnacle format of the game”.
Azam said that he will carry forward the legacy of his predecessor under whom the team achieved the top spot and help the team evolve into a “powerful side”.
“It is my responsibility to take forward Sarfaraz Ahmed’s accomplishments in T20Is so that we remain a consistent, attractive and powerful side,” he said.
The outgoing skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed said he was honoured to lead the side at the highest level. He also wished the new captains well for the future assignments.
“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,” Sarfaraz said.
PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, who approved the appointments, said: “I want to congratulate 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 with 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.”