Azhar Ali likely to lose Test captaincy ahead of NZ Tour

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has started reviewing the performance of Test captain Azhar Ali to decide whether to retain him as captain for the tour of New Zealand.

Ahead of captain Azhar Ali’s visit to New Zealand, detailed discussions have been held with PCB chief executive officer (CEO) Wasim Khan to review his performance as captain and batsman. However, the National Test cricket team captain is yet to meet Chairman Ehsan Mani.

It is also learned that a senior PCB official opposed Azhar Ali’s retention as captain of the Pakistan Test team.

The meeting is expected to take place in the next 10 days. The Test squad for the tour of New Zealand will be announced in the second week of November, during which the PCB will decide whether to retain Azhar Ali as Test captain.

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Mohammad Rizwan and current limited-overs captain Babar Azam are at the top of the list of potential replacements for the Test captaincy, with the change likely to happen as early as Pakistan’s upcoming tour of New Zealand in December.

It is to be remembered that just 12 months after Azhar Ali replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed as Pakistan’s Test captain, there could be another change on the way PCB is looking for a younger replacement.

The final decision, however, hasn’t been made yet as constitutionally, the prerogative to name or dismiss a captain rests with the PCB chairman – who is due to meet Azhar in the next 10 days.

Azhar, 35, has struggled for form over the past two years, and found himself in a sustained slump until he scored a hundred in Karachi late last year, followed by a fighting century in a rain-hit draw against England in Southampton in August.

Azhar is presently is the most capped player in the Pakistan side with 81 Test matches in a career that started in 2010. He was appointed ODI captain following both Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi’s ODI retirements after the 2015 World Cup.

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