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‘Arthur likely to be retained as head coach’

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LAHORE: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur is most likely to be retained on the said post till next year’s Twenty20 World Cup while Azhar Ali may also get back Test captaincy, it is learnt.

Arthur has arrived in Lahore to appear before the PCB cricket committee on Aug 2 to give his views on Pakistan’s showing in the recently-concluded World Cup in England and Wales where Sarfraz Ahmed and his men failed to reach the semi-finals on net run-rate after finishing equal with New Zealand on points table (11 each).

Besides Arthur, outgoing chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and Sarfraz will also present their views to the committee, separately.

Well-informed sources have told Dawn that initial deliberations over the appointment of the head coach, other members of coaching staff, new selection committee and captain had already begun immediately after the World Cup ended.

According to sources, victory at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England and Pakistan’s attaining top ranking in T20 international cricket under Arthur’s coaching are his plus points. And as the T20 World Cup is also nearing, Arthur may be the best man to carry on.

Moreover, the PCB is also considering splitting national team captaincy. Under this formula, right-handed batsman Azhar may again be appointed as Test captain to reduce the workload on Sarfraz who will retain the leadership in limited-overs cricket.

Batting star Babar Azam may also be appointed as deputy to Sarfraz and Azhar to be groomed for future.

The 34-year-old Azhar was removed as Test captain soon after Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 under Sarfraz’s leadership. The unexpected victory at The Oval made Sarfraz a strong captain.

However, under his leadership Pakis­tan failed to deliver in Test matches as they plummeted to seventh place after being sixth in 2017. Pakistan, who under Misbah-ul-Haq’s captaincy captured top Test ranking in 2016, failed to retain the coveted spot and dropped to sixth in the 2017 under Azhar and now they are seventh.

However under Sarfraz, Pakistan improved their ODI ranking from eighth to sixth, while they lead the ICC team rankings in T20 format.