Azhar Ali set to be named ODI captain
The PCB chairman, Shaharyar Khan, has decided to appoint Azhar Ali as captain of Pakistan's ODI side, ESPNcricinfo understands. Azhar, who was not a member of Pakistan's World Cup squad and has not played an ODI for two years, will succeed Misbah-ul-Haq after his retirement from the format.
The PCB is also set to create a new four-member selection committee, with former batsman Haroon Rasheed as the new chief selector. That would mean the end of Moin Khan's time in the role, after he was called home from the World Cup for visiting a casino. The PCB is expected to announce details on Monday, after the board endorses the changes.
Azhar has only played 14 ODIs and last featured in January 2013, despite an average of 41.09. The 30-year-old is a regular in the Test XI, providing a steadying influence at No. 3. His deputy will be Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper batsman, who is also expected to become vice-captain to Shahid Afridi in T20.
This is not the first time Azhar has been considered for the Pakistan captaincy. In 2010 he was seen as potential candidate to take over after the spot-fixing saga, despite having only made his debut that year, but then chairman Ijaz Butt chose Misbah on the basis of experience.
Both Misbah and the coach, Waqar Younis, preferred Azhar for the one-day job because he is seen as a safe, unproblematic choice, as well as a sensible batsman in the mould of his predecessor. He has smooth relationships with fellow players and the board. Azhar has also captained at various levels in Pakistan, with a record of played 34, won 16.
Teams he has led include Lahore Eagles, Lahore Lions, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, Khan Research Laboratories and Baluchistan Warriors. Azhar also captained Wahab Riaz and Nasir Jamshed, members of Pakistan's World Cup squad, at Under-19 level.
Although he has not played over the last two years, Azhar has been in contention for an ODI place but found senior batsmen Misbah and Younis Khan preferred to him in the line-up. With Misbah's retirement and uncertainty over how long Younis will continue, the PCB wanted a reliable middle-order replacement and is evidently confident that Azhar can cope with the pressure of being recalled to the side as captain after a long absence.
Haroon's panel of selectors will be made up of former internationals Kabir Khan, who was previously the coach of Afghanistan, Azhar Khan and Saleem Jaffar.Haroon has previously served as a member of the selection committee on two different occasions, as well as twice being head of the junior selection committee. He is currently working as game development manager at the National Cricket Academy but will have to relinquish this post.