The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday lived up to our expectations of surprising everyone with an untimely decision when they accepted Azhar Ali’s resignation and instated T20I captain Sarfraz Ahmed as the leader of the shortest format’s pack. One might question the timing of the decision — Pakistan Super League (PSL) was to kick off on Wednesday too — but the move itself has been welcomed by everyone, fans and pundits alike.
Sarfraz, known for his aggressive batting and his agile running between the wickets, is Pakistan fans’ favourite. His rise from vice-captain to captain of the ODI side was on the cards when Pakistan were beaten by Australia Down Under in the recently concluded five-match series which the visitors lost 4-1. Apart from the obvious defeats against major cricketing nations, Azhar’s defensive approach, which he nurtured while playing under Test captain Misbahul Haq, was also a point of worry for everyone.
The game of cricket has changed since the onslaught of T20 leagues around the world and Pakistan were left paces behind everyone due to their absence in some of the biggest tournaments. The introduction of PSL promised to deliver aggressive players which could help Pakistan but time needs to be given to the cash-rich league before we can harvest its crop. So, Sarfraz’s appointment might not be the perfect solution to all of Pakistan’s problems in limited overs’ cricket but it promises to have a significant impact. How? First of all, he has proven his leadership abilities while leading Quetta Gladiators to the final of the inaugural PSL. Also, his meaningful presence in the T20I side, as the captain, reaped some good results in the recent T20Is.
Pakistan play West Indies after PSL to consolidate their chances to qualify directly into the 2019 World Cup. It will be a crunch series for both the ODI side and Sarfraz as his mettle of delivering under pressure will be tested. Let’s hope Sarfraz delivers the razzmatazz brand of cricket he has promised so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2017.
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