The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is set to name Babar Azam as skipper of the ODI team in place of Sarfaraz Ahmed. However, the board has come under fire for its imminent decision against the wicket-keeper batsman, who was ousted from T20 and Test captaincy, back in October last year.
The PCB had named Babar as T20 captain, while Azhar Ali took over at the helm in the longest format following the surprise decision to drop Sarfaraz from both squads. However, the board hadn’t named an ODI captain as Pakistan’s next 50-over assignment would only be a one-off match against Bangladesh on April 3. And former cricketer Ramiz Raja believes that mantle will be handed over to Babar imminently, given his status as being the team’s No.1 batsman in all three formats.
Despite being one of Pakistan’s most successful captains in recent memory, the PCB dropped Sarfaraz from the Test and T20 squads in October, before naming his replacements. The 32-year-old led Pakistan to the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy title — that too defeating arch-rivals India in the final. Under him, Pakistan climbed to the top of the T20 rankings and has continued to maintain that spot.
“Sarfaraz has also performed well as a batsman and keeper in 50-over format having played with a batting average of around 32 and kept well last year,” a critic told PTI.
Despite their poor showing in the 2019 World Cup overall, Sarfaraz had led Pakistan to six straight wins in ODIs last year. And so, critics of PCB’s expected move believe Sarfaraz is still the man to lead the country in white-ball cricket at least. However, as it stands, the board is looking at Babar Azam to replace him in ODIs too, making him their white-ball skipper.
“There is no way the PCB or selectors can now justify not keeping Sarfaraz in the ODI team or replacing him with Babar Azam. It would be a great injustice with a fine captain and a player. There was pressure on Sarfaraz as captain for all three formats but he is still the ideal choice for the white-ball formats,” former chief selector Mohsin Khan said.