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Azhar Ali has stepped down as Pakistan’s ODI captain following a heavy dose of criticism after his side’s 4-1 loss to Australia.
With Azhar having relinquished the captaincy, Pakistan have handed the reins over to current Twenty20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
“Azhar agreed to relinquish his captaincy as he believed that his batting is being effected due to extra burden of leadership,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told ESPNcricinfo. “I respect his decision and he will continue to play as batsman in one day team, but now we all decided that Sarfraz will be handed the ODI captaincy.”
During Azhar’s tenure as captain, Pakistan slipped to a record-low ninth place on the ODI team rankings, but they have risen a spot and are just in contention to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. They also narrowly booked their spot in this year’s Champions Trophy as only the top eight sides in the world will feature in the tournament.
As a result of all this, Shaharyar, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and National Cricket Academy head coach Mushtaq Ahmed met last month to discuss what needed to be done about the ODI captaincy.
The PCB had been mulling over the idea of stripping Azhar of the captaincy for some time as in September, they asked him to consider stepping down after the national team were beaten 4-1 by England.
But, Azhar responded by leading Pakistan to a 3-0 victory over the West Indies, which led to him keeping hold of his leadership role in the recent tour of Australia.
All in all, Pakistan only won five out of their 10 bilateral ODI series under Azhar, with two of them coming against Zimbabwe and the others being against Ireland, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Overall, Pakistan won 12 ODIs and lost 18 during Azhar’s time as skipper.