Currently, the PCB is reportedly searching for new captains for their national cricket team in three different formats. As per reports, Babar Azam is set to remain the captain of the T20I side, while Sarfaraz Ahmed could potentially take on the role of Test captain. Shan Masood and Shadab Khan are both strong candidates for the captaincy of the ODI team as if seconded by the upcoming head coach Mickey Arthur.
The Pakistan cricket team has had its fair share of highs and lows in recent years, but there are a few key players who have consistently performed for the national side in some formats while struggling in others. In this article, we will analyze the recent and overall performances of these players and determine their importance to the team, as well as their leadership skills.
However, it is important to note that statistical performance is not the only factor to consider when determining the best fit for captaincy. Leadership skills and the ability to strategize and make decisions on the field are also crucial qualities for a successful captain. It will ultimately be up to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to determine the best fit for the role based on all of these factors.
Babar Azam has been a brilliant performer for Pakistan in recent years. The right-handed batsman is deemed one of the best in the world and has consistently delivered for his national team. In the World Cup T20I in 2022, Azam had a below-par tournament, but he returned to form in the Test format, scoring 348 runs in the three-match series against England. He followed it up with another strong performance in the two-match Test series against New Zealand, scoring 226 runs.
In his international career, Azam has 3696 Test runs from 47 matches, 4664 ODI runs from 92 matches, and 3355 runs from 99 T20Is. His highest average is in ODIs, where he scored an average of 59.69. This outstanding record makes him an assertive candidate for captaincy in any format.
Sarfaraz Ahmed has also been adequate form for Pakistan recently. The wicketkeeper-batsman had a strong series against New Zealand in the two-match Test series, scoring three half-centuries and a century. In his career, Sarfaraz has been a dependable performer in Tests, averaging 38.85 and scoring 2992 runs in 51 matches. In 117 ODIs, he has scored 2315 runs, while in T20Is, he has scored 818 runs from 36 matches.
While Sarfaraz's implementation in Tests has been consistent, his record in the other formats is not as remarkable. His average in T20Is is lower than Babar Azam's, and his record in ODIs is also not as muscular. This may make him a less qualified candidate for captaincy in those formats. However, his experience and performance in Tests make him a strong nominee for the role of Test captain.
Shan Masood, who has lately been selected as the vice-captain of the Pakistan team under Babar's captaincy, has not played an ODI since 2019. Unfortunately, he was not included in the squad for the first ODI against New Zealand. His last T20I appearance was in November 2022., Recently appearing in the Test series against New Zealand, he only scored 68 runs from four innings.
Across the board, Masood has 1500 runs from 28 Tests at an average of 28.30, comparatively lower than Sarfaraz's average. In T20Is, he has amassed 395 runs from 19 games and has a slightly better average than Sarfaraz. Masood has played only five ODIs and has scored 111 runs, which proffers that he may not be the best choice as an ODI captain at this time.
Shadab Khan has been out of the recent series due to his participation in the Big Bash League and a finger injury. Although his batting form has been deteriorating lately, he is still performing well with his googlies and leg spin. In his career, Shadab has played 6 Tests, 53 ODIs, and 84 T20Is, scoring 300, 596, and 476 runs in the respective formats. His average with the bat in any format is not particularly impressive, but he has taken 14 wickets in Tests, 70 wickets in ODIs, and 98 scalps in T20Is. His best average is in T20Is which is 21.47. Moreover, Shadab has the best economy rate in Tests which is 3.22.