LAHORE - PCB chairman Najam Sethi and the chairman of Pakistan's selection committee Moin Khan appear to be at loggerheads over who will lead Pakistan at the World Cup. Moin had mentioned a possible change in leadership on Tuesday, but the notion was shot down by Sethi, who said today he had decided to stick with Misbah-ul-Haq.
"To be honest a change in captaincy was discussed," Moin had said at a press conference in Karachi. "We have to take a decision, with consensus with everyone within the PCB and the incoming head coach. Whoever is better for Pakistan will be the captain (for the World Cup)."
Sethi, though, threw his weight behind Misbah. "According to the rules, the PCB chairman selects the selectors and the captains of the team, while the selectors select the teams," Sethi said. "Whatever be the personal view of the selectors regarding who should be the captain, I stand by my decision to retain Misbah-ul-Haq as captain until the World Cup."
Misbah, 39, was named full-time captain of the ODI team in 2011, and has led it in 71 ODIs overall, winning 39 while averaging 47.21 with the bat - that's better than his career average of 44.38 in 146 matches. In 32 games over the past 12 months - of which Pakistan won 16 - he averaged 52.00, and was the cornerstone of the batting. There are some who believe Shahid Afridi should take the reins from Misbah ahead of the showpiece event. Similarly for 2011 World Cup Misbah was a strong contender for the captaincy but, following weeks of uncertainty, Afridi was named captain.
Misbah is also Pakistan's Test captain, having led them in 27 Tests, with 12 wins, seven defeats and eight draws. "Misbah has performed very well in both one-dayers and Tests and is one of the fittest players in the team," said Sethi of Misbah, who scored 1,373 runs in 2013 -- the most in the world. Fitness is to be a key focus for the side as they prepare for the World Cup, which Pakistan won in 1992, Khan said on Tuesday.
Fellow selector M Akram said the condition of all the players will be closely monitored and anyone missing targets will be fined. Despite Sethi's support, Misbah will remain under pressure, given Pakistan's history of sacking captains and coaches after poor performances.
M Hafeez, sensing he would be sacked, resigned the captaincy after Pakistan failed to reach the semi-final of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh earlier this month. Pakistan Tuesday announced 36 probables for a training camp starting in Lahore from May 6. They will tour Sri Lanka for two Tests and three one-days in late July. Pakistan will also play Australia and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates in November-December before touring New Zealand for a short one-day series in January ahead of the World Cup.