Three-in-one Captain 05 Jul, 2017
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board Tuesday rewarded Sarfraz Ahmed with the country's Test captaincy, a fortnight after he led the national team to an elusive Champions Trophy title in England.Underdogs Pakistan trounced India by a record 180-run margin in the final in London on June 18 to lift the Champions Trophy, to the shock and ecstasy of the cricket-mad country.PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan named Sarfraz Test captain at a ceremony honouring the winning team hosted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Tuesday. "I take this opportunity to announce Sarfraz as our Test captain in addition to one-day and Twenty20 captain," Khan said.The Test captaincy has been vacant since Misbah-ul-Haq retired after winning a three-match Test series 2-1 in the West Indies in May this year. Sarfraz said leading Pakistan in all three formats is a great honour. "I am honoured to be appointed Test captain," he said during the ceremony. "I will do my best to lift the team in all three formats and will not rest on Champions Trophy laurels."Sarfraz will now lead Pakistan in all three formats. He took over the T20I captaincy after the 2016 World T20, when Shahid Afridi stepped down following Pakistan's early exit, and became ODI captain when Azhar Ali resigned in February this year. Tuesday's announcement ends speculation over the identity of Misbah-ul-Haq's successor as Test captain. Misbah, who retired at the end of Pakistan's tour of West Indies in May, was Pakistan's longest serving and most successful Test captain, leading them to 26 wins in 56 matches. And even though Sarfraz is unarguably Pakistan cricket's most prized asset at the moment, Misbah's will be a tough act to follow.This is also the first time in five years that Pakistan have had one man at the helm across formats; Misbah was the last man to lead all three sides, and he stepped down from the T20 leadership following the 2012 World Twenty20. Sarfraz's appointment had been expected ever since chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq expressed a desire to see one captain across all formats. And it became all but inevitable after the 30-year-old wicketkeeper batsman led Pakistan all the way to a stunning, against-the-odds triumph at the ICC Champions Trophy in June.Sarfraz is also one of a handful of Pakistan players whose place in the starting XI is assured in all three formats. Even before he took over as Pakistan's limited-overs captain, he had plenty of leadership experience, having led the Under-19 side to a memorable World Cup win in 2006. He has also been Quetta Gladiators' captain in the Pakistan Super League since the tournament's inception, and has led them to successive runners-up finishes. Sarfraz's first Test assignment will be a 'home' series in the UAE against Sri Lanka, which starts on October 19 and will comprise three Tests, five ODIs and two T20IsSarfraz has had a long association with leadership roles for Pakistan. He was captain of the side that won the Under-19 World Cup in 2006, with his senior international debut coming a year later. He spent several years in and out of the national team before earning a recall for the October 2014 limited-overs series against Australia in the UAE. He consolidated his position in the Test team as the No.1 wicketkeeper in that period and went on a hot streak, scoring three centuries and four fifties. Ahead of his retirement, Misbah nominated Sarfraz among the leaders to take Pakistan forward. "The onus is now on the likes of Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed to step up and fill the void," Misbah wrote in his column before his final Test."When two Pakistan greats Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf left the scene, Younis and I tried to fill that gap. Azhar and Asad have developed in the meantime and now they are at a stage to replace us. We need Azhar and Asad to now take ownership of the Test side, and with players like Babar Azam, Umar Amin, Mohammad Rizwan, Ahmed Shehzad, Usman Salahuddin, Fawad Alam among others in the ranks I am hopeful that Pakistan will remain in good shape. Every team goes though transition periods and Pakistan is no different."

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