It’s official now and perhaps, it may also draw the curtains on the international career of Pakistan’s Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. According to a report in Dawn, Pakistan’s T20 captain, Sarfraz Ahmed has taken over as the captain of the Pakistani ODI side from Azhar Ali. Azhar has also stepped down as the Vice-captain in Tests, and it remains to be seen, what the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and selectors decide on his future.
According to sources in the PCB, Azhar met its Chairman Shaharyar Khan in Dubai and expressed his willingness to relinquish captaincy in the 50-over version. Following Azhar’s decision, Sarfraz was entrusted with the responsibility. Pakistan’s Test captain, Misbah ul Haq, however hasn’t yet taken a call on his career and as per media reports, will only decide after the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The PCB has given Misbah the time, but has made it amply clear that it’s opinion would also matter when it came to selecting the Test captain.
The 29-year-old Sarfraz hailing from Karachi made his ODI debut against India at Jaipur in 2007 and has figured in 67 50-over matches for his country. The talented wicket-keeper batsman started his Test journey in 2010 at Hobart against Australia and has played 33 matches so far. He has led Pakistan in only 1 ODI so far.
Now, the question is: What will be Misbah’s decision? Will he give up captaincy in Tests and agree to remain in the team just as a player? Or will he ultimately retire from international cricket? If he decides to carry on as a player, then going by his recent performances, he may not be assured of a conformed place in the team. But, for sure the PCB will ensure that Misbah exits gracefully keeping his contributions to Pakistan cricket in mind.
Misbah, statistically has been a pivot for Pakistan since taking over the reins captaincy from Salman Butt who was held guilty in the spot-fixing scandal in 2010. Out of the 72 Test matches he has played for Pakistan, Misbah has been the captain in 53 of them. He has lead his country to 24 victories in Tests, a record unparalleled. But with dismal performances against New Zealand and Australia in recent times, there have been speculations that it was time for the 42-year-old to hang up his boots. Both the PCB and Misbah have kept the media guessing on the latter’s future course of action, but with Sarfraz taking over as the ODI skipper, the future of Misbah looks uncertain. A report in The Express Tribune states Sarfraz may take charge of captaincy in all the three formats of the game. Fingers crossed!
If at all, Misbah calls it a day, it will the end of an era. Alastair Cook recently resigned as the English Test skipper, will Misbah follow suit?