Former Pakistan players bat for Azhar Ali


Former Pakistan players — Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi — have come in support of under-fire ODI skipper Azhar Ali and urged the board to give him another chance to lead the team in the upcoming series against the West Indies in UAE.

“I don’t think it is fair to reach a judgement about Azhar Ali’s captaincy after just 20 to 22 matches as captain.

I think any captain should be given a proper run of at least 30 to 35 matches before a judgement is made about,” Akram told the media here last night.

“Azhar has performed as a player in one-day cricket the main challenge for him now is to mould the team and for this I think he needs to be given more time,” he added.

The former fast bowling great cautioned against taking a premature decision to appoint wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed as captain in place of Azhar.

“Sarfaraz has led the team well in his one match as national T20 captain but it is not enough to decide he can also lead the national ODI side well. He should not be rushed into this responsibility,” Akram said.

“Sarfaraz should be allowed more time to settle down in his role as national T20 captain and if he remains stable he can than be considered for the ODI responsibility as well.”

Akram also felt that Pakistan had given a good account of themselves in England.

“We lost 1-4 to England in the ODI series but let us not forget they are a very good one day side right now and we are struggling to rebuild in this format,” he insisted.

Another former skipper, Shahid Afridi also backed Azhar Ali to continue as the ODI captain.

“We should not take hurried decisions. Azhar has done well as a player in one-day cricket and he needs more time before we can decide whether he is a good ODI captain or not.”

Afridi said while Sarfaraz was doing well, but too much burden should not be put on him.

“What happens if he fails to click as the ODI captain then we say he is not good enough and what do we do then? Best is to let Azhar continue for more time and this will also allow everyone more time to judge Sarfaraz as Pakistan captain properly,” said Afridi.

He also said that if Pakistan played with the same aggression that they showed in the T20 against England, they will soon improve their rankings in ODI cricket as well.

Azhar apparently was asked by the Pakistan Cricket Board to decide if he wanted to continue as ODI captain and he said he had no intentions of stepping down from the responsibility.

Sources in the PCB said that a decision on whether Azhar will continue as captain of the ODI side for the series against West Indies will be taken after the Eid holidays when Board chairman Shaharyar Khan returns home from London after his medical check-ups.

Khan is currently admitted in a London hospital for tests and possible treatment for a heart ailment.

(With PTI inputs)