Pakistan cricket captain Babar Azam has stepped down from his position following the men in green’s premature exit from the ongoing 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup in India.

Azam, who started leading Pakistan four years ago in 2019, in a statement said that he is stepping down from the position in all three formats of the sport. The Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that Shan Masood will lead the Test side while Shaheen Shah Afridi will lead in T20Is.

“Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats,” Azam wrote. “It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is a right time for this call.”

“I will continue to represent Pakistan in all three formats. I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication,” he added.

With Azam as the captain, Pakistan rose to No. 1 spot in the ICC Men’s ODI Rankings not long ago. However, after the failure to reach the semi-finals, his position was immediately under threat. Azam scored 320 runs in nine matches at an average of 40 and strike-rate of 82.90 at the World Cup.

“I vividly remember the moment when I recieved the call from PCB to lead Pakistan in 2019,” he wrote. “Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows on and off the field, but I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world.”

As well as suffering an eighth defeat in eight meetings at World Cups against arch-rivals India, he also oversaw a first loss to neighbours Afghanistan. Azam, who has been under fire for his on field decision making, had met the PCB chief earlier in the day before tendering his resignation. His decision comes just a day after the team’s bowling coach Morne Morkel announced his departure on Tuesday.

Azam led Pakistan in 20 Tests, winning ten, losing six and drawing the other four. In 43 ODIs, Pakistan won 26, losing 16 with one no result.

In the shortest format, Azam led Pakistan to the semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup in 2021 and a runners-up finish a year later.

In 71 T20Is, he enjoyed 41 wins, 23 losses with seven no results. This is for the third time that Pakistan has failed to qualify to the semi-finals in three editions.

Team director Mickey Arthur and head coach Grant Bradburn also held discussions with Ashraf but they are likely to remain in their positions.

With AFP inputs