Azhar Ali has been appointed national cricket team captain for Pakistan’s World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 season, while Babar Azam has been named captain of the No.1 ranked T20I side until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup Australia 2020, which is now exactly one year away.
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.
The Pakistan Cricket Board approached the cricketer before making the final announcement and suggested him to step down from all the three formats but he refused.
The change was on the card as Pakistan miserably failed against the Sri Lankan team during T20I series and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq was unhappy with the senior players including Sarfaraz Ahmed.
According to the PCB, 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.
Seventh-ranked Pakistan will play fifth-ranked Australia in two Tests in Brisbane (21-25 November) and Adelaide (29 November-3 December (d/n)) before hosting Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for two Tests apiece.
Pakistan are also scheduled to play three T20Is each against Australia (3, 5 and 8 November) and Bangladesh before the curtain falls on their international domestic season in early February 2020.
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.
Babar Azam said: “To be named captain of the No.1 ranked side in the world is the biggest thing that has happened to my career to date. 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.”
Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “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.”