Full NAME: SARFARAZ AHMED
Born: May 22, 1987, KARACHI, SINDH
Current Age: 33 years
ROLE: Wicket-Keeper Batsman, PAKISTAN Captain, Right-Handed Batsman
Sarfraz Ahmed is a wicketkeeper batsman who could have meandered into irrelevance, as has been the case for many capable cricketers on Pakistan’s domestic circuit. Instead, he became the first Pakistan captain since the great Imran Khan to win a 50-over world title.
Sarfraz took over the ODI reins in February 2017, providing his side with rare single-minded direction and focus. In June that year, Pakistan went into the Champions Trophy as the lowest-ranked team and lost heavily against India to start off, but then went on a red-hot run to beat South Africa, Sri Lanka and hosts England, and finally India to claim the prize.
A right-hand middle-order batsman, Sarfraz wasn’t always the sprightly presence that bossed the Sharjah Test of 2014 – when Pakistan chased 302 in 57.3 overs to level the series. In fact, between 2007 – when he made his debut – and 2014, Sarfraz had played just four Tests, four T20Is and 26 ODIs. He was miles off being a regular in any of Pakistan’s sides, and not nearly good enough to warrant a place as a specialist batsman; he hadn’t scored an international half-century in all this time. It was an era when the Akmals – no less than three of them – had taken out a lease on the area behind the stumps.
Sarfraz had appeared on Pakistan’s radar initially by leading Pakistan’s Under-19s to the World Cup title in 2006, scoring half-centuries in his third and fourth match. He broke into domestic cricket, where 523 runs in 10 matches along with 28 dismissals behind the stumps pushed him into the A team’s tour of Australia in 2007. Then he was left in the wilderness.
It took seven long years for the spotlight to return to Sarfraz, when he made 74 in Pakistan’s total of 359 in the second innings against Sri Lanka in Dubai. The innings was in a losing cause, but it did establish him as the team’s first-choice wicketkeeper. He averaged 71.20 over the next 18 months, and during this period also elbowed his way into the ODI side midway through the 2015 World Cup campaign with a run-a-ball 49 against South Africa.
Since then, Sarfraz has been a man for all formats, steady with the gloves, aggressive with the bat and street-smart as a captain across formats. At 30, with the Champions Trophy tucked under his arm, he became arguably Pakistan’s most respected cricketer since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. It would remain that way till October 2019, when a sustained loss of personal form saw him abruptly removed as captain in all three formats and dropped from the side entirely.
Sarfraz Ahmed first came into the radar of all concerned when he led the Pakistan U19 team to win the 2006 ICC U19 World Cup. He did not have a good tournament with the bat as he scored only 64 runs in four innings, but he led the side admirably, which was highlighted by the performance in the final where Pakistan defended a paltry 109 against arch rivals India.
Sarfraz then broke into the domestic circuit of Pakistan with 523 runs in 10 matches along with 28 dismissals behind the stumps. The performance earned him a spot in the Pakistan A team squad to tour Australia in 2007.
Sarfraz was handed his ODI debut against India at Jaipur in 2007. He did not get to bat in his first three games. In fact, he batted only twice in his first eight ODI’s and scored 7 and 19. With only 9 dismissals with the gloves in those games, Sarfraz was dropped.
Sarfraz made his Test debut against Australia at Hobart in 2010. He made 1 and 5, and took four catches.
In the same year, Sarfraz donned the gloves for a T20 in national colours for the first time against England at Dubai. After scoring only 5 in his first two games, he was dropped.
rise to glory
Sarfraz’s mission comeback looked to be on course when he hit 74 against Sri Lanka at Dubai in 2014. He averaged 71.20 over the next one and a half years to establish himself as the number one wicket-keeper of the side.
Initially, Sarfraz was not the first-choice wicket-keeper of Pakistan going into the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. He was promoted to open the innings in the must win game against South Africa and he returned with a run-a-ball 49. He hit his maiden ODI century against Ireland in the next game and has not looked back ever since.
However, Sarfraz’s moment of glory came during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy as he became the first Pakistani captain since Imran Khan to win a 50-over world title. After losing to India in the first game, Pakistan bounced back strongly to win all the games including extracting revenge against India in the final to win the tournament.
Sarfraz’s batting average in the ODI’s leave much to be desired. He averages only 33.90 after 85 games with only 10 scores above 50. It is one facet of his game he surely would want to improve.
Sarfraz captains the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League. He has led his franchise to the final of the tournament in both 2016 and 2017 but could not come out triumphant.
Shahid Afridi was sacked after a poor 2016 ICC World T20 campaign, and the Pakistan Cricket Board appointed Sarfraz as the captain of the T20 team. A year later, he would be given the reigns of the ODI side as Azhar Ali stepped aside.
When Misbah Ul-Haq retired from Test cricket, Sarfraz became the 32nd captain to lead Pakistan in the longest format of the game.
Under Sarfraz, Pakistan has won 12 out of 19 matches in ODIs and 13 out of 16 matches in T20Is. However, he has lost both the Test matches in which he captained Pakistan.