Sarfaraz Ahmed leaves after a press conference © AFP
Sarfaraz Ahmed has been retained as Pakistan captain for three ODIs and three T20Is against Sri Lanka in Karachi and Lahore later this month. The PCB have been appointing Sarfaraz on a series-by-series basis and there had been speculation that they may not retain him after Pakistan failed to make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
The PCB had already chosen to move on from Mickey Arthur who had been the Pakistan coach at the World Cup and Sarfaraz’s performances, as captain and player, had not been the best. The 32-year old wicketkeeper has made 621 runs from his last 29 innings at an average of 32, with only four fifties.
But perhaps encouraged by the way Pakistan ended their World Cup campaign, with four wins in a row and only missing out on the semi-finals on net run-rate, both the PCB and new coach Misbah-ul-Haq have given him their full backing. The board has also appointed the 24-year old Babar Azam as vice-captain in both formats.
Speaking to reporters in Lahore, Sarfaraz said he was “honoured” to be re-appointed and that he will do all he can to increase Pakistan’s consistency. “I am aware we have not done justice to our potential in ODIs, which has disappointed us as well as our fans,” he said. “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 also have complete faith in my team, which has time and again shown talent, class and charisma it possesses. The only thing missing has been consistency, which Misbah-ul-Haq and I would like to focus and improve across all departments of the game. I assure all our fans we will not leave any stone unturned in our preparations for the forthcoming assignments and will do our best to translate these preparations into solid performances.”
Babar, who is ranked 16th in Tests, third in ODIs and No. 1 in T20Is, has previous leadership experience, albeit at the Under-19 level when he captained Pakistan at the World Cup in 2012.
Misbah, who last week had expressed the desire to build a team that can not only dominate opponents but can also fight its way through when they get behind in a game, said he was well placed to bring out the best of Sarfaraz considering they had worked together as Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper for a long time in Test cricket.
“I want to congratulate Sarfaraz on his confirmation as Pakistan captain and Babar on his appointment as vice-captain. Both are one of the most talented and exceptionally gifted Pakistan cricketers and thoroughly deserve these assignments.
“Consistency backed up by good performance has been my yardstick for recommending Sarfaraz as captain. 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 always been an admirer of his commitment and the energy he brings to the side.”
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo