Babar Azam appointed new Pakistan test captain

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Pakistani batsman Babar Azam, right, plays a shot while Zimbabwe's wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor, left, watches during their 2nd Twenty20 cricket match at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Pakistan Zimbabwe Cricket

Pakistani batsman Babar Azam, right, plays a shot while Zimbabwe's wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor, left, watches during their 2nd Twenty20 cricket match at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan removed the test captaincy from Azhar Ali and gave it to Babar Azam on Tuesday.

Azam's promotion means the 26-year-old batsman leads Pakistan in all three formats -- one-day internationals, Twenty20s and test matches.

Ali led Pakistan in eight tests since he was appointed captain last year. He won two home test matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but lost in Australia 2-0 and in England 1-0.

Apparently, Ali’s defensive approach as captain -- especially against England -- led to his removal.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani hinted that Ali, who opens in tests, could still be part of the test squad when the team leaves for New Zealand for two tests this month.

“I believe Azhar still has a lot of cricket left in him and Pakistan cricket can continue to make the best use of his experience and knowledge as a specialist top-order batsman moving forward,” Mani said in a statement.

Azam has been Pakistan’s most accomplished batsman in all three formats. His leadership qualities have also impressed Mani, who has the authority to appoint captains.

“With his consistent performance and leadership skills (in white-ball cricket), he has demonstrated that he is ready to take on the additional responsibilities of a captain,” Mani said.

“It is appropriate that we appoint him the captain now so that he continues to grow stronger with every match.”

Mani spoke with Azam on Tuesday soon after Pakistan won the third and final Twenty20 against Zimbabwe and clinched the series 3-0.

“I am ready and prepared to take up the additional responsibility,” Azam said in a statement issued by the PCB.

“I want to thank Azhar Ali for the way he captained the team in the last season, which was a difficult one, but I know that he will leave no stone unturned in giving his very best to the team.”

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