Batsman Babar Azam on Wednesday took over the reins of Pakistan’s white-ball cricket after being appointed as the One-Day International captain by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Azar Ali will continue to lead in Tests, the PCB announced.

Babar, who was one of the world’s leading batsmen across formats last year and already the T20 captain, replaced wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed as the ODI captain for the 2020-’21 season. Pakistan is scheduled to play six ODIs and 20 T20 Internationals, besides the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup this season.

“I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions,” chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said in a PCB statement.

“This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles. I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels.”

Amir, Wahab axed from central contract list

Pakistan also announced an 18-player men’s central contract list for the 2020-’21 season, which will come into effect from July 1. Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz missed out, while Imam-ul-Haq, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah slipped one category each.

“The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move,” Misbah said.

“However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers.”

Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad are the two new faces in the contract list.

The 17-year-old Naseem had become the youngest Test bowler to take a five wicket haul and a hat-trick in consecutive Tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Karachi and Rawalpindi, respectively, while Iftikhar had played two Tests, two ODIs and seven T20Is in the 2019-20 season.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took 18 Test and two T20I wickets for Pakistan in the 2019-20 season, moved up in Category A.

Abid Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood have been awarded Category B.

PCB also created a new Emerging Players’ Category and included Haider Ali and pacers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain as initial inductees.

“I am thankful to the PCB Chairman for supporting our recommendation to give emerging player contracts to Haider, Haris and Hasnain. This is part of our forward-looking strategy and investing in the future, while also encouraging potential future national team players,” Misbah said.

PCB Men’s Central Contract List for 2020-’21:

Category A: Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Category B: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.

Category C: Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Naseem Shah, Usman Shinwari.

Emerging Players’ Category: Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain.

(with PTI inputs)