Sarfaraz Ahmed to continue as skipper, Babar Azam named vice-captain for Sri Lanka series

Updated September 13, 2019

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Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, left, embraces teammate Babar Azam after scoring the winning runs during the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, England, June 26. — AP
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, left, embraces teammate Babar Azam after scoring the winning runs during the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, England, June 26. — AP

Sarfaraz Ahmed, the wicket-keeper batsman, has been retained as Pakistan captain while Babar Azam has been named as the vice-captain for the home series against Sri Lanka, a press release by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.

According to the press release, "the announcement was made after the PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani, confirmed the recommendations made by Misbahul Haq, the head coach and chief selector, and the PCB Cricket Committee."

“I feel humbled and honoured to have been awarded an extension to my captaincy term. I have enjoyed captaining the Pakistan cricket team and look forward to improve my leadership qualities under the new set-up of Misbahul Haq who also has a proven record as captain," the PCB handout quoted Sarfaraz as saying.

“I have played most of my cricket under Misbah and we know each other pretty well. I think we will make a good combination, which will contribute to improved performances of the side across all formats," added the skipper.

Sarfaraz acknowledged that the limited-overs side had performed below par of late.

“I am aware we have not done justice to our potential in ODIs, which has left us as well as our fans disappointed. 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 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 and I would like to focus on 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,” he said.

Of the extension in Sarfaraz's tenure and Babar Azam's appointment, the PCB chairman expressed confidence that the two will bring laurels to the side.

“Sarfaraz is an experienced campaigner who has excelled and improved as a leader with every match. I have complete faith in his abilities and I am confident he will continue to blossom under Misbah’s wings.

“We have appointed Babar Azam as Sarfaraz’s vice-captain. This is part of Babar’s gradual development as a future captain and in line with our strategy of introducing a succession plan across the board so that there are no gaps. I am hopeful the trio of Misbah, Sarfaraz and Babar will do well for Pakistan cricket,” said Mani.

Misbahul Haq, giving his input on the selection, said that since he knows Sarfaraz well, he believes he will be able to get the most out of his skill set and that Babar will prove to be the right man by his side.

“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," said the coach.

“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," he added.

“I have emphasised on changing the dressing room culture and mindset of the players to achieve better results, and I believe Sarfaraz is a perfect fit to help me attain these objectives.

“In the past couple of weeks, Sarfaraz and I have worked together on certain areas of his cricket that will enhance his overall performance. Both of us realise it is a performance-oriented world and we are expected to give our best every time we take the field. I look forward to working with him and hope we will succeed in changing the outlook of the Pakistan cricket team,” said Misbah.

'Sri Lanka have committed to touring Pakistan'

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani allayed concerns that the Sri Lankan team would back out from the forthcoming tour a day after Sri Lanka Cricket reported receiving "warnings" of a terror bid, saying that the team have "committed to coming here".

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani addressing a press conference. — DawnNewsTV
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani addressing a press conference. — DawnNewsTV

"Our discussions with the Sri Lankan board are ongoing. There has been no negative feedback from them; they are just speaking with [their] government for final clearance. They have not told us any more than this," said the PCB chairman on Friday during a press conference.

"And they have not at all said they won't come. So we have complete confidence they will come and God-willing all matches will take place in Pakistan," said Mani.

"As far as speculation that they are sending a "second string" team is concerned, team selection is a home team prerogative. For me, what matters is that international matches are taking place in Pakistan. They have committed to coming here," he stressed.

The list of 19 probables for the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka will be announced on Monday. The camp will commence at the National Cricket Academy starting Wednesday, September 18.

The final 16-player ODI and T20I squads will be named on September 23.