Pakistan retain under-fire Azhar Ali as ODI captain for West Indies series
Amidst calls for him to be removed from captaincy, PCB have backed Azhar Ali to lead Pakistan’s ODI team for the forthcoming 3-match series against West Indies in UAE. Although there had been reports of the 31-year old being asked to step down by the board earlier, he has managed to retain his position.
PCB’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Subhan Ahmed confirmed the development by stating, “The selection committee has the right to select a captain in any format, but Azhar will lead the national side in the upcoming series.”
Despite their successful form in the Test arena, Pakistan are languishing at number nine in the ICC ODI rankings and in danger of missing out on direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup in England.
Azhar took over the ODI captaincy from Misbah ul Haq following the 2015 World Cup in Australia & New Zealand, where they exited from the tournament in the quarterfinals. Since then, he has led the team to 10 victories and 15 defeats from 26 matches.
However, five of those wins came against lower-ranked sides such as Zimbabwe and Ireland.
Blaming the domestic system for their white-ball woes, Misbah had quipped, “I have long been saying that we need to lay greater emphasis on one-day cricket in our domestic system, and play more one-day games, because you can't evolve by playing a maximum of five 50-over matches a year in the domestic circuit. In Pakistan, there is a perception that the captain is the only one responsible for everything. Cricket is a team game and every player has to contribute.”
Despite supporters in Pakistan clamouring for a change at the helm of affairs, the likes of Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi have thrown their weight behind Azhar by alluding to the need to give him some more games before jumping to conclusions regarding his leadership ability.
After taking over the captaincy, Azhar has scored 1006 runs at an average of 40.24 and strike-rate of 80.54 which is the most by a Pakistani batsman in ODIs during this period.
Meanwhile, Subhan Ahmed also reiterated that any decision regarding giving farewell opportunities for Afridi and discarded off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will only be taken by PCB after meeting both the players on the 26th.