Azhar Ali steps down as Pakistan ODI captain

Karachi [Pakistan], Feb.9 :Wicketkeeper-batsman Azhar Ali has stepped down from the post of Pakistan ODI skipper in the wake of mounting pressure on his leadership following the 1-4 defeat in the five-match ODI series against Australia.

Sarfraz Ahmed, who has led Pakistan in one ODI and four Twenty20 Internationals, will now take over reins of both the sides.

Azhar, in a meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan in Dubai, had informed that he wants to quit from the post in order to shift his focus entirely on his batting, following which the PCB immediately appointed Sarfraz as the captain.

"Azhar Ali decided to step down from ODI captaincy and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management has decided to make Sarfraz Ahmed as the next ODI captain," the Express Tribune quoted the PCB official as saying.

"The PCB management including Chairman and Executive committee member are present in Dubai for opening of PSL where they have decided to give ODI captaincy to Sarfraz who have been a successful captain in T20 format," he added.

Under Azhar's leadership, Pakistan won only five out of ten bilateral series, two of them were against Zimbabwe, and one each against Ireland, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Besides, Pakistan also slipped to a record-low ninth spot in the ODI rankings under him. Sarfraz, who has impressed while leading the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Quetta Gladiators and T20I team, will now play his first series as a full-time ODI skipper against West Indies in April.

The series will be crucial for both sides as it might well decide which of the two sides will directly qualify for the next World Cup in England.

Source: ANI