Before the World Cup started, Misbahul Haq , the captain of Pakistan team, had announced that he would retire from ODIs after the event. Pakistan ended its journey in the World Cup after losing the quarterfinal against Australia.
As soon as the World Cup finished for Pakistan, the issue of Misbah’s successor became the talk of the cricketing town in our neck of the woods. Sarfraz Ahmed and Wahab Riaz were considered as two strong candidates particularly due to their gutsy performances at the show piece event. But PCB gave the responsibility of leading the team in the fifty over format to Azhar Ali .
Azhar Ali , aged 30, who bats at the crucial number three spot, is a regular playing member of the Test squad but the decision of making him the One Day captain is surprising considering the fact that he has not featured in even a single ODI since January 2013.
As soon as the Pakistan Cricket Board announced Azhar as the ODI captain , the cricket fans and the experts started to question the appointment on electronic and social media.
Generally there are two concerns being tabled by the cricket fans which need to be addressed. Firstly, Azhar was not part of the one day team. Secondly, he has played only fourteen one day matches in his entire career.
We should all remember that even Misbah was not part of the Pakistan team when he was appointed the Test captain by the chairman of that time Ijaz Butt in the year 2010. People (including me) criticized Misbah’s appointment but Misbah proved his critics wrong through his performances on the field. Secondly he too had played very few Test matches at the time of his appointment.
We should take the rules of the One Day game into account. Due to the new set of rules, the life for a bowler has become more difficult and the game has tilted towards the batsman. This has affected the decision making among Test playing nations who now tend to appoint a full fledge batsman or a batting all-rounder as a captain rather than a bowler.
I personally feel that Azhar may not be good choice as a captain but considering the fragile batting line up of Pakistan and the batting style of Azhar Ali , he deserves a regular place in the One Day team as he has the temperament to stay at one end and play the entire fifty overs of the innings.
Pakistan cricket is predictably unpredictable on the field and in the board rooms so such a surprising decision by the cricket board is something which is not new. But since Azhar’s appointment has been finalized, we must support the decision rather than criticizing Azhar without giving him a chance to prove his worth. It is better to wait and see how good, or bad, this decision turns out to be.