Sarfaraz Ahmed has been sacked as the skipper of the Pakistan cricket team ahead of the team's tour to Australia which will begin in November. Azhar Ali has been appointed as the new Test skipper while Babar Azam, considered one of the best limited overs batsman for Pakistan, has been designated as the new Twenty20 International skipper. The move comes as Pakistan embark on a tour to Australia where they will play three Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests which begin from November 21. The move comes in the aftermath of Pakistan getting whitewashed 3-0 in the recent Twenty20 International series by a second-string Sri Lanka side missing some of their key players. This was the first time since 2015 that Pakistan were whitewashed 3-0 in T20Is and it was the first loss for Sarfaraz as skipper of the Pakistan team.
Sarfaraz took over the captaincy following the retirement of Misbah ul Haq and he led in 13 Tests, winning four but losing eight Tests. Sarfaraz's high point came in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy when he led Pakistan to victory in the final against India but since then, he has endured a torrid time. Pakistan were whitewashed 3-0 in the Tests against South Africa and in the same series, Sarfaraz was banned for four games for a racist taunt against Andile Phehlukwayo.
The woes continued for Pakistan as they lost an ODI series to New Zealand 2-1 in the UAE while in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, they lost to India for the seventh time in World Cups while they failed to make the knock-out stages of the tournament. Despite winning the ODI series against Sri Lanka, the subsequent 3-0 whitewash by a Sri Lankan side that were missing Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga and other key players has prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board to sack Sarfaraz.
Pakistan are currently ranked No.7 in the Test rankings and Sarfaraz's own form in the past couple of years has been woeful. Barring the two Tests against Australia, Sarfaraz has had a highest average of 22 in the subsequent Test series. Even in ODIs, he has been inconsistent. In the England Vs Pakistan series before the World Cup, Sarfaraz managed an average of 93 but he struggled prior to that and even in the World Cup. In eight games, he scored 143 runs with just one fifty.
Ehsan Mani, the chairman of the PCB, has approved of the changes. "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 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."
In a PCB release, Azhar Ali hailed Sarfaraz's contribution. "Sarfaraz 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," Azhar said in a statement.