Misbah-Ul-Haq (Photo Credit: PCB/Twitter)

Last Update on: May 14th, 2020 at 02:26 pm

On Wednesday, Pakistan cricket made a significant change to their setup by naming Babar Azam as the new ODI captain. Among the many concerns addressed by Misbah-Ul-Haq after the release of the central contracts list, the former captain announced that the decision had been made keeping in mind the 2023 World Cup. Azam, who earlier took over as the T20 captain, replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed, whose poor form with the willow, led to his axing across formats.

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Babar Azam has risen as the country’s best batsman across all versions ever since his debut. By averaging nearly 50 in all three formats, Pakistan has pinned their hopes on the 25-year old to take them to the summit slowly. The Lahore-born cricketer will have the responsibility to build the 50-over side that would compete for the 2023 World Cup in India.

Babar Azam, Virat Kohli, Haider Ali
Babar Azam. Photo Credit: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Coach and selector Misbah-Ul-Haq is confident that Babar Azam can serve well as the captain and is the right time to groom one for the next World Cup. He believes that the youngster is level-headed and that his performances in Tests have also been top-notch ever since he became the T20 skipper. Hence, the added responsibility would bring further best out of him.

“We have kept in mind who can serve us in the long run. We have kept the 2023 World Cup in mind while picking Babar as an ODI captain. He is the captain of the T20 side, he is a top-class performer and this is the right time to groom him. He is taking the challenge head-on. Since he became our T20 captain, his Test performance has also improved. So why not, if he can take responsibility.” Misbah said of Babar Azam.

Misbah explains the reason behind the absence of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, and Hasan Ali:

The 18-man central contract list for 2020-21 season had two new faces in Iftikhar Ahmed and Naseem Shah. However, the omission of the pace trio, including Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, and Hasan Ali raised eyebrows. The 45-year old acknowledged the tough calls saying that Hasan’s injury forced him to miss most of the season while the priority for Wahab and Amir remains white-ball cricket. Thus, it was the correct call.

Mohammad Amir. Getty Images

At the same time, he assured that Wahab and Amir are in the frame due to their experience and the ability to mentor upcoming bowlers. Mohammad Amir called time on his Test career in July 2019, having played 36 of them.

Hasan Ali
Hassan Ali. Credit: Twitter

“The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan, and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move. However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers, and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers. I spoke to them on the phone, and it was a tough call” he added.

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