By:Shahjahan Khurram Pakistan recently trounced the Windies on their own home turf in the T20 format, clinching the series 3-1 against the hosts. With Pakistan winning two of the three T20 wins decisively and the other one remarkably well under pressure, the spotlight is currently on T20 captain Sarfaraz Ahmad and the question on everyone’s...
Pakistan recently trounced the Windies on their own home turf in the T20 format, clinching the series 3-1 against the hosts. With Pakistan winning two of the three T20 wins decisively and the other one remarkably well under pressure, the spotlight is currently on T20 captain Sarfaraz Ahmad and the question on everyone’s minds is–is he the one to lead Pakistan to future glories?
One must make a fair assessment of Sarfaraz before jumping to conclusions. The right-handed batsman has earned his laurels well before he made it into the national team. Sarfaraz led Pakistan Under 19 team to their World Cup victory and has hence established his leadership credentials to the PCB.
The wicket-keeper batsman never shies away from attacking the opposition, either when he takes to the crease or when it’s time to strike while the iron is hot and he’s holding the reins of the team as their skipper.
Sarfaraz projects that same aggression in his captaincy-attacking the opposition with whatever is at his disposal. Whereas Misbah as captain was defensive and Afridi was reckless, in Sarfaraz the team has finally found a reasonable balance.
At times when he has to take to the crease to lift the team out of crisis—Sarfaraz puts his aggressive batting display on hold and cautiously looks for boundaries, finding the gap in the most sensible manner.
How expertly he used Shadab Khan to skittle a settled West Indies and clinch a thriller for Pakistan, speaks volumes for his capability and the quality to foster a deep understanding of the game and turn it to his advantage.
He’s the right man for the job, in the sense that when the team requires someone to lift their spirits, he’s always there to boost their morale. While Misbah had a calm and cool disposition, Sarfaraz is quite animated and energetic on the field. Any fumble or misfielding does not go by undetected—and the young skipper does unleash his fury every now and then at the guilty player.
Just how good he will prove to be in the 50-overs format, remains to be seen. Sarfaraz will be leading a dispirited side that has not done so well in the recent past under Azhar Ali’s leadership.
He will need to boost the morale of the team and instill in them the quality to attack in a 50 overs match as well. While T20s can turnaround in a couple of overs and are comparatively easy to win, the One Day Internationals will certainly put his leadership skills to the test.
Pakistan still looks up to Misbah for leadership when it comes to Test cricket but that won’t be the case for long. For one thing, Pakistan’s most successful Test captain is in his twilight years as far as cricket is concerned and his performance has also been waning (the New Zealand and England Test series being proof of that).
Sarfaraz might be called up soon to lead Pakistan, as Chief Selector Inzamam had already voiced the opinion that there should be one man to lead the team in all three formats of the game.
In short, Sarfaraz has his plate full for the time being as the newly appointed ODI skipper of the team and our T20 captain as well. Despite being junior to most of the players in the national team (Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Misbah-ul-Haq, Yasir Shah and others) he has proved himself a capable man with the salient features required to lead Pakistan.
The PCB has undoubtedly made the right choice in Sarfaraz to lead the team. So far, the signs have been positive and the outcomes have been a refreshing reflection of the attacking cricketer.Under his captaincy, the team has an impressive record–Pakistan have won 6 out of the 7 T20 matches it played. And all six victories have come against World Champions West Indies.
Not only that, he has led his PSL team Quetta Gladiators into the final in two successive years. If that does not speak volumes for the wicket-keeper’s ability to gel a team together and exact stellar performances from them as a cohesive unit, I don’t know what will.
But will he transform a team that has been dispirited, controversy-plagued and often dubbed as undependable, into the fierce winning unit it has all the potential to become?