Azhar Ali is set to be replaced as captain of the Pakistan Test side, with star batsman Babar Azam or wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan being touted as his replacement.
Azhar was named as the captain of the Test side last year, replacing Sarfaraz Ahmed. But, his performances with the bat and as captain have been a point of concern. Azhar’s captaincy credentials were questioned by cricket experts in Pakistan’s recent tour of England.
Former captain of Pakistan, Wasim Akram raised question marks over Azhar’s captaincy after Pakistan lost the first test against England after being in a strong position to win the Test match. Wasim is also a part of PCB’s cricket committee, so him raising doubts on Azhar’s captaincy would surely point in a change at the helm.
According to reports, PCB CEO Wasim Khan met with Azhar Ali recently as part of his annual appraisal, the final decision on the matter will be made by PCB chairman Ehsan Mani in the next couple of weeks.
Performances of the last five captains:
*Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi & Salman Butt captained Pakistan for a short period of time so were not considered.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are the two contenders for the role. Babar is a mainstay of the Pakistan batting line-up in all three formats and captain of the limited-overs sides. Rizwan on the other hand has just established himself as the wicket-keeper in Test and ODI squad, his place in the T20 side is still up for grabs.
Apart from leading the limited-overs side, Babar Azam was named as Azhar Ali’s deputy in Tests as well, so he would be considered an obvious choice. But PCB looks hesitant to add the pressure of test captaincy on his shoulders.
Mohammad Rizwan has been quite remarkable over the past year, he came into the national side after a long wait on the sidelines, but his displays have helped him propel to the discussion of the next Pakistan Test captain.
He was named as the man of the series against England for his brilliant batting and his world-class wicket-keeping. He recently led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the National T20 Cup title, garnering praise for his batting, fielding, wicket-keeping and his captaincy.
It will be interesting to see who the PCB opts for as the next test captain of the national side. Both the choices seem good, but as we have seen in the past, nothing is guaranteed in Pakistan Cricket.