Former Pakistan skippers, Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi, have come out in support of current ODI captain Azhar Ali, who has been under fire in the media since the national team’s recent 4-1 series loss to England.
And the duo have also urged Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to give the 31-year-old a chance to lead the side against the West Indies in the United Arab Emirates.
Talking about Azhar’s captaincy, former left-arm fast-bowler said it would be unfair to comment on his leadership qualities at this point in time, given the limited number of matches Pakistan have played under him.
“I don’t think it is fair to reach a judgement about Azhar’s captaincy after just 20 or 22 matches as a captain,” he said. “I think any captain should be given a proper run of at least 30 to 35 matches before a judgement is made.”
Wasim added: “Azhar has performed as a player in one-days, and the main challenge for him now is to mould the team for which I think he needs to be given more time.”
The bowling great also cautioned against taking a premature decision to appoint wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed as captain in place of Azhar.
“Sarfraz has led the team well in his one match as T20I captain, but it is not enough to decide he can also lead Pakistan in ODIs as well,” he said. “He should not be rushed into this responsibility.”
Similarly, all-rounder Shahid Afridi also backed Azhar to continue as ODI captain.
“We should not make hasty decisions,” said Afridi. “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.”
He added: “It would be best to let Azhar continue for more time, which would also give everyone more time to judge Sarfraz as captain properly.”
According to sources in the PCB, the decision on whether Azhar will continue as ODI captain for the series against the West Indies will be taken after the Eid holidays when board chairman Shaharyar Khan returns home from London. The 82-year-old is currently admitted in a hospital for tests and possible treatment for a heart ailment.