Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan on Monday confirmed the appointment of Azhar Ali as the captain of the ODI team and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed as his deputy.
A high-level meeting of the board on Saturday discussed potential candidates to take over as ODI captain after Misbah-ul-Haq's retirement from the limited-overs squad at the end of Pakistan's topsy-turvy World Cup campaign. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, Test batsman Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz were being touted as possible contenders for the spot.
But Azhar emerged as the unanimous choice after thorough consultations with former players, the selection committee and outgoing captain Misbah-ul-Haq and coach Waqar Younis, Shahryar said at a press conference.
"We all know Azhar has not been part of the ODI squad for the last couple of years but he showed his potential during the recent Pentangular Cup. Azhar is a man with great character and is a level-headed individual," Shahryar said.
|Sarfraz Ahmed will be the vice-captain of the T20 and ODI sides. — AP|
Shahryar also confirmed the appointment of Sarfraz as the vice-captain of the ODI team, terming the player a 'fighter'.
"Unfortunately, we don't have a culture where we can install a 22-year-old captain like South Africa did with Graeme Smith. Both Azhar and Sarfraz are experienced but they will be given time to adjust. We are looking to bring change and needed fresh faces at the top."
Sarfraz will also be the vice-captain of the T20 side, a sign that the PCB is looking at the 27-year-old as a future captain.
The 30-year-old Azhar, meanwhile, played his last ODI in 2013 but is a regular of the Test side, was recommended by coach Waqar Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq as the best choice to lead the limited-overs side.
The Lahore-born top order batsman has played 39 Tests, scoring 2851 at average of 41.31, and 14 ODIs in which he has notched up 452 runs at 41. His strike-rates of 39 and 64 in Tests and ODIs have already prompted fans to liken him to Misbah.
Misbah will remain the skipper of the Test team with Azhar Ali as the vice-captain, while Shahid Afridi will lead the T20 side.
Misbah led the side in 87 of his 162 ODIs, winning 45 of them, and has been a beacon of stability.
Ali acknowledged he had a hard act to follow.
“It's a huge responsibility and I hope that all players will support me. I salute him (Misbah-ul-Haq), the way he served and the way he played. His services are unforgettable,” he said.
“It is a very difficult task to replace him and it (Misbah's departure) will create a huge gap especially in one-day cricket.”