Azhar Ali has just captained the team in eight ODIs so far © AFP (File Photo)
Azhar Ali has just captained the team in eight ODIs so far © AFP (File Photo)

Karachi: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali‘s captaincy tenure in one-day internationals might be shortlived if he is not able to inspire the national team to a series win over Sri Lanka in the on-going five-match rubber.

The National selection committee and many others have not been impressed with Azhar s captaincy so far, particularly the way Pakistan squandered the opportunity to beat Sri Lanka in the second one-day internationals, a well-informed source close to the national team and the selectors told PTI today.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are locked one all in the series which is a must win for the green shirts if they want to qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy. Umar Akmal ignored for ODIs against Sri Lanka for failing to report to training camp

Although Pakistan has a triangular one-day series to play in August-September in Zimbabwe with West Indies before the ICC s ODI team rankings are announced on Sept 31st but if it fails to win the series in Sri Lanka it could be in a very difficult position to qualify for the Champions Trophy.

The source disclosed that the national selectors were having second thoughts about Azhar’s ability to build the ODI squad and make it more aggressive and positive minded.

If Pakistan does not win the series in Sri Lanka the selectors are likely to talk to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman and top officials and recommend the name of wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed to be given charge of the ODI squad, the source disclosed. Sarfaraz is presently vice-captain to Azhar in ODIs and to Shahid Afridi in T20 cricket. Sri Lanka announce squad for five-match ODI series against Pakistan

Basically the selectors are thinking on lines that after the World T20 next year in March-April, Pakistan would be better served having one captain for the limited overs format and Azhar being given charge of the test squad, the source said.

Although Azhar has just captained the team in eight ODIs so far including three each against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and two in Sri Lanka his captaincy style has failed to evoke confidence in the cricket community.

He lost all three ODIs in Bangladesh but then led Pakistan to a clean sweep over Zimbabwe at home. All-round Mohammad Hafeez helps Pakistan crush Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in 1st ODI

His own form since deciding to open the innings in ODIs as captain has been good as he has piled up scores of 72, 36, 101, 79, 102, 46, 21 and 79 but his critics point out his batting style does not suit the way ODIs are played these days when teams are regularly racking up totals of 300 plus and secondly by opening he upsets the batting balance of the team.

“The selectors are looking at Mukhtar Ahmed and Noman Anwar as their ODI and T20 opening pair in the near future,” the PCB source said.

Mukhtar a power hitter has failed to get a place in the ODI series in Sri Lanka since Azhar opens with Ahmed Shehzad. Mohammad Hafeez’s performance against Sri Lanka shows why Pakistan need him

Former Test off-spinner Tauseef Ahmed noted that Azhar Ali ran out of ideas once he came under pressure at the beginning and towards the end of the second ODI. He needs to learn a lot more and be more attacking, he said.

Pakistan s former captain, Rashid Latif however said that Azhar needed to be given more time before judging him as captain and ODI batsman. But yes definitely he needs to improve batting strike rates of around 75.

At present Azhar commands a high batting average of 52 in ODIs. The 30-year old was elevated to ODI captain after Misbah-ul-Haq announced his retirement from limited overs cricket after the World Cup. Azhar came out as a surprise choice since he had not been part of the Pakistan ODI squad since 2013. Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal ensure Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 2 wickets