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Azhar might not be Pakistan captain on NZ tour, hints Wasim

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KARACHI: Azhar Ali might not be Pakistan’s Test captain during next month’s tour of New Zealand after Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan stated that the 35-year-old’s leadership will be reviewed.

“The PCB will review Azhar’s performance as the Test captain ahead of the New Zealand tour and a final decision will be made by PCB chairman Ehsan Mani on November 10 or 11, when the squad will be announced,” Wasim said while talking to Dawn News.

Azhar replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed as Pakistan’s Test captain in October last year. The following month, he oversaw a 2-0 whitewash of Pakistan on their tour of Australia.

Pakistan won a two-match series 1-0 against Sri Lanka in December last year before beating Bangladesh 1-0 in a one-off Test in February 2020.

In August this year, Pakistan lost a three-match series in England 1-0.

As captain, Azhar has notched up two centuries, the latter helping Pakistan earn a draw in the final Test against England.

Wasim, meanwhile, backed Misbah-ul-Haq and Babar Azam as coach and captain for next year’s World Twenty20.

“Like every other job, that of the head coach and the captain is also performance-based,” he said. “At the moment, our main focus is white ball cricket with World Twenty20 events in each of the next two years and we’re backing Misbah and Babar for the next World Twenty20 as they’re both doing well together.”

Earlier this month, Misbah stepped down from his role as chief selector and Wasim said the new chief selector will be named soon.

“When Misbah was appointed in the dual role, there was no other choice at that time,” said Wasim. “It was mutually decided between PCB and Misbah that he will leave the chief selector role and focus on the head coach role as we have important ICC events coming up. Right now, we have two to three options for the chief selector role and will announce the name when the final choice has been made.”

Wasim also sounded hopeful about England touring Pakistan next year.

Wasim’s invitation was welcomed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the ODI world champions could potentially tour Pakistan in October next year for a short tour after 16 years in order to play a couple of Twenty20 Internationals.

“We sent them a formal invitation to tour Pakistan and we have good vibes that the ECB will seriously consider our invite,” Wasim said. “They will review the other necessary matters and I expect positive news from them.”

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020

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