October 19, 2016


Pakistan turned ignominy into triumph  and emerged resurgent in the T20 format soon after new captain Sarfraz Ahmad took charge. Skipper Sarfaraz  led his team to victory in four straight matches against the top ranked teams. But will the ‘unpredictability’ tag continue to haunt team green ?

It hasn’t been long since Pakistan’s dismal performance under then skipper Shahid Afridi at the World T20 this year in India prompted calls for a team shake-up. The subsequent shuffle brought the talented but hitherto relatively unsung ODI vice captain to the fore. Sarfaraz rose to the challenge and proved he has the mettle to take the team to new heights.

Pakistan played a T20 match against England on their home soil in September and convincingly beat them by nine wickets with five overs to spare, while chasing a 135-run target. That was the litmus test for the new skipper. Had it been otherwise, Pakistani fans would have begun to bawl followed by the media turning its guns on the captain and eventually the cricket board pressing the panic button.

Sarfaraz had earlier proved himself as  skipper during the first edition of the Pakistan Super League, taking his team Quetta Gladiators to the finale. Though his team lost the tournament,  he was heaped with accolades for his leadership.

Sarfraz has played 25 T20s, scoring 337 runs with an average of 33.70, including two half-centuries. He was also captain of the Pakistan Under-19 team which won the World Cup in 2006.

But the new captain didn’t have time to rest on his laurels after defeating England. His next challenge was  perhaps tougher — a three match T20 series against defending world champions West Indies – and Pakistan whitewashed them. The Pakistani team won the first match by nine wickets, second match by 16 runs and the third encounter by eight wickets.

Interestingly, all the four matches won by Pakistan under Sarfraz were against teams who were finalists of the last World T20.

If we take a look at the records of erstwhile captains, the figures are quite varied. Afridi has captained the home side in 43 T20 matches in which the team won 19 and lost 23, while one match ended in a tie.

Next comes Muhammad Hafeez, who led the team as skipper in 29 matches with 17 victories and 11 defeats to his credit. Similarly Shoaib Malik captained the team in 17 matches (including the inaugural World T20 in 2007), winning 12 of them and losing four.


Misbah-ul-Haq was also a captain for eight matches, and propelled the side to triumph in six matches. However, he was forced to quit the format in 2013 due to his sluggish batting and the team’s lacklustre performance in a few matches.  In particular, the match that compelled Misbah to relinquish his leadership from the T20 format was the  decider of a three-match series against England in the UAE in February 2013.

Younis Khan also led team green in eight matches, winning five of them including the World T20 title in 2009. He has been one of the more successful captains in terms of leadership skills.

Sarfaraz is off to a promising start, but a successful captain needs grooming and support. Having found a leader with potential, the cricket board must not draw back from investing in the player.


The writer tweets @Azharkh4