KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is considering naming either Sarfraz Ahmed or Azhar Ali as the next ODI captain after Misbahul Haq’s retirement.
Sarfraz was one of the standout performers in the World Cup for Pakistan and has been leading his department and region in first-class cricket, while he led Pakistan to U19 World Cup triumph in 2005.
On the other hand, Azhar has been given added importance post-Misbah because he can bring stability to the side while he also has ample experience in international cricket, being part of a stable middle-order in Tests for almost five years.
“Azhar and Sarfraz are front-runners for the ODI captaincy as the PCB’s top management feels that they are both capable of leading Pakistan,” a senior PCB official told The Express Tribune. “Azhar is perhaps the strongest contender because he has got a good track record and a lot of experience in international cricket.”
However, the two are not the only ones being considered for the spot. “Apart from these two, the board feels that Wahab Riaz is also a contender after he came of age in the World Cup,” added the official. “The spell against Australia has brought him into contention because that aggression can be used to build the team in a similar mould.”
PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan said that the board will announce the new ODI captain and members of the selection committee within three or four days. “The naming of the ODI captain is my decision but I am consulting former captains, ex-chairmen of the PCB and well-known cricketers,” he added. “I have also made deliberations about changing the selection committee.”
The Bangladesh tour
The PCB chief also raised doubts regarding Pakistan’s tour of Bangladesh as he stated that it is not finalised, despite reports earlier suggesting that a deal has been reached. It is expected that team will travel to Bangladesh on April 14 if the tour does go on.
“The Bangladesh tour is not finalised as there are still some financial and security issues which need to be resolved between the two boards,” revealed Shaharyar. “But we will still ensure that we have done all our preparations.”
Relations between the PCB and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) have been strained ever since the latter decided to not send its international team to Pakistan for a short ODI series. In retaliation, then PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf stopped more than 50 Pakistani players from participating in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
The BPL took a big hit due to this and had to fill the vacant spot with other players to ensure that the tournament is not cancelled or postponed.
The PCB wanted Bangladesh to tour Pakistan now but their counterparts have been standing their ground to host Pakistan team. The Pakistan board then asked for half of the profit from the series if Pakistan are going to travel but it was also not agreed upon.
The PCB is now demanding the BCB bears all the costs of the tour, including travel, daily allowance and match-fee of the players.